About Pilate’s wavering
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
“Consequently, Pilate tried to release Him, then, hehanded Him over to be crucified” (St. John19:12,16).
From where does this contradiction in Pilate stem? From where is this dual will in one and the same man? While he stood under the radiant face of Christ, Pilatefrom all his heart wanted to release the Just Man. But, when the darkness of the Jews overcame him, he agreed to the works of darkness. This is the seed [Jesus Christ], fallen among the thorns. While the face of Christ shown on the seed, the seed took root, but as soon as the seed was left without this light, the darkness of the thorns smothered it. When the Lord Jesus authoritatively spoke to Pilate of the Heavenly Kingdom, saying to him, “You would have no power over Me, if it had not been given to you from above” (St. John 19:11), Pilate then felt overcome by the fear of God. But when the masses of the Jews cried out to Pilate, “If you release Him, you are not a friend of Caesar” (St. John 19:12), then Pilate was overcome with fear from the worldly king. His fear for the body overcame his fear for his soul, as it happens occasionally, even today. Pilate was a disciple of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom does not offer strength but instills fear. Worldly wisdom does not sustain the soul but the body. Worldly wisdom does not instill fear for the soul but fear for the body and all that is physical. Here, in Pilate, we see an obvious and a pathetic example of what kind of men worldly wisdom produces and educates, sidestepping God and going against Christ. Pilate’s weak character and wavering soul is a picture, not only of pagans, but also of weak Christians. Certain Christians daily, imperceptibly and, more often,unconsciously, would for a while like to eliminate Christ from the darkened and evil instinct of the Jews within themselves. Then, at other times, they would like to abandon Him to that instinct for crucifixion. This always happens when a Christian transgresses some of the commandments of Christ for the sake of fulfilling some of his own physical desires. For a moment, that commandment enlightens the heart of a wavering Christian and again, for a moment, the physical darkness overcomes him so much that he completely succumbs to it. O Lord, long-suffering, do not turn away the radiance of Your face from us even for one twinkling of the eye, so that the darkness does not overcome us.
O Lord help us that we will remain children of the light until the end.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date March 4, and New Calendar date March 17.
At Lauds Holy and Great Thursday, Stichera, (Tone II):
Verse: Praise Him for His mighty acts, * praise Him according to the multitude of His greatness.
The council of the Jews hasteneth to assemble, * to deliver the Fashioner and Creator of all over to Pilate. * O transgressors, O unbelievers! * For they make ready to surrender unto judgment, * Him who cometh to judge the living and the dead; * they prepare the Passion of Him * who healeth the passions. * * Great is Thy mercy, O longsuffering Lord: glory be to Thee
At the Aposticha Holy and Great Thursday, Stichera, (Tone VIII):
Today the evil Sanhedrin hath assembled against Christ * and devised vain things against Him, * to deliver Him, though innocent, over to Pilate * to be put to death. * Today Judas placeth the noose of money around his neck, * and depriveth himself of life both temporal and divine. * Today Caiaphas prophesieth against his will, saying: * ‘It is expedient that one man should perish for the people.’ * He came to suffer for our sins, that He might set us free * from bondage to the enemy: * * for He is good and the Lover of mankind.
Both now …, (Tone V):
Thou didst instruct Thy disciples in the Mystery, O Lord, * teaching them saying: * ‘My friends, take care that fear doth not separate you from Me. * For though I suffer, it is for the sake of the world. * Be not scandalized because of Me; * for I have not come to be ministered to, * but to minister, * and to give My life as a ransom for the world. * If then ye are My friends, ye will do as I do. * He who will be first, let him be the as the last; * let the master be as the servant. * Abide in Me, that ye may bear fruit: * * for I am the vine of Life.’
Through Thine ineffable compassion, O Christ our God,
have mercy on us and save us.