In his last quarterly report. Pastor Athanase Habimana (national director of NE Congo) included this Easter message. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on his words.
In Matthew’s account of the trial of Jesus, one memorable moment the evangelist captures presents Pilate washing his hands (Matthew 27:24). The governor’s wife had sent him word of a warning she had received in a dream and Pilate appears to have wanted to avoid having anything to do with Jesus.
Throughout the passion narrative, Matthew depicts Jesus as the person in control of the situation. Our Lord is accused, arrested, sentenced, and crucified, but none of this comes as a surprise to the one who comes with royal splendor to accomplish the will of the Father.
Pilate appears to have decided to use the provision of a paschal amnesty as a means of freeing himself from the difficult bind in which he found himself. When this strategy failed, Pilate washed his hands, in a gesture aimed at creating distance between himself and Jesus’ sentence of guilt.
Whatever the reason for Pilate’s action – and speculations are many – the governor was unable to evade responsibility for what he had done. He, too, had a share in the guilt of those who desired, and made possible, the execution of the Messiah.
Many are the situations in which we may face the dilemma of making difficult choices. Yet, there is no escaping responsibility for the decisions we make. The complex challenges of the decision-making process – developing an accurate definition of the situation, clarifying the loyalties informing our values, applying sound reasoning, and so on – do not release us from responsibility for the choices we make.
Jesus’ refusal to choose the path of self-defense did not make Pilate’s dilemma any easier. His majestic silence bespeaks his resolute decision to do the will of the Father. In the circumstances, Jesus decided to remain loyal to his Father, whatever the cost. As it turned out, our Lord faced the terror of the cross. He suffered the death of a criminal!
Yet, suffering does not have the last word when we are guided by the Holy Spirit to make hard choices. On Easter day, Jesus rose from the dead unveiling for our benefit that, sometimes, sovereignty is mediated through brokenness.
When we have to make painful decisions, we may need to remember that, in the end, the purity of our motives and the defensibility of our actions may be vindicated.
Easter reminds us that, from the crucible of harsh choices, we may rise with confidence and joyfully take hold of the future that God unfolds before our eyes. The resurrection of our Lord Jesus reveals that life trumps death and truth shines brightly when, by the grace of God, we refuse to avoid the path of costly discipleship.
Pastor Athanase Habimana