You Say So

October 2nd, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Tyler Connoley

Today’s Scripture: Luke 23:1-5 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tyler Connoley):

Although the council of elders had condemned Jesus as a blasphemer and a heretic, they had no authority to put him to death. They were under Roman rule, and couldn’t legally execute prisoners. So, they brought Jesus to Pilate, the Roman authority, to have him condemned.

Of course, as a foreigner, Pilate didn’t care whether or not Jesus had blasphemed the Jewish God, so the council of elders had to give him some other reason to execute Jesus. Look at the reasons they gave: He perverted our nation, forbade us to pay taxes, and calls himself a king. All those statements are close to the truth, but they’re actually lies. They were also impossible for Jesus to defend against.

As with yesterday’s passage, we can all relate to Jesus in this story. Most of us have never had to defend ourselves in a death penalty case, but we’ve all had people tell angry lies about us. Our first impulse in such situations is always to defend ourselves, particularly if our reputation or life is at stake, but that would only devolve into a he said/she said situation. Jesus provides us with another possibility — acknowledge the words without accepting them.

I work in campus ministry, and sometimes (particularly during stressful periods like Finals Week) students will lash out at the chaplain or me for no apparent reason. Chaplain Mike has a standard response at times like this, and it’s almost exactly how Jesus responds to the charges of the council of elders. For example, a couple years ago, someone walked into the campus ministry building and said, “Mike, you’re a short, bald, fat, S.O.B.” Mike responded, “So you think I’m a short, bald, fat, S.O.B.. Would you like some coffee?” He acknowledged the barb, but he didn’t accept it. There was no way for him to defend against that kind of venom, but he didn’t have to internalize the slur.

Responding to an angry lie in this way often has the affect that Jesus’ response did on Pilate. When Pilate saw that Jesus was not defensive or angry about the charges being hurled against him, Pilate instinctively realized that the charges must be baseless. Jesus’ calm demeanor, and simple response — “You say so.” — gave evidence to his innocence. So, Pilate told the crowd, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.”

Thought for the day: Next time someone hurls a false charge in your direction, try acknowledging it without accepting it. Like Jesus, you are a child of God, and you have no need to defend yourself against false slurs.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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