They woke him a little earlier this morning. It was some important case their council wanted him to hear. They assured him that it was just a formality. Capital crime – death penalty a foregone conclusion. How he had ended up in this petty position, catering to the whims of these fanatical people, he would never understand. But, it was all in a day’s work.
The accused was brought in and as the interrogation proceeded, it became shockingly obvious to him that this was not your “normal” case. Even his early morning thinking could discern that this was a totally bogus accusation. But it was not going to be that easy. These Sanhedrin knew how to play the political game. Slowly, yet deftly they were moving to place him in a bind. It was becoming obvious to him that his goal was not going to be justice for the accused. The name of the game was to secure his political position. He could play their game as well as they.
The men of war who had accompanied Herod down to Jerusalem were restive. They were men accustomed to excitement and bloodshed. To be garrisoned in this sleepy town of Jerusalem was almost like a punishment. But it was all part of a day’s work. Their day, however, was interrupted and they suddenly saw an opportunity to have a little diversion. The cursed rabble that they were controlling had delivered a prisoner over to Herod for his interrogation.
They had come with their lawyers and accusations and the accused had stood silent. Herod, at first cautious and fearful, had gradually grown bold and confident. He called together his soldiers. He might not be able to afford them much of the normal “entertainment” they enjoyed, but at least the boredom of the day could be diverted by some “innocent” fun at the expense of the prisoner. Why not just spend the morning amusing them with this prisoner. After all, you had to squeeze whatever fun you could out of life.
Not far away in another castle was the Praetorium guard. Elite soldiers, yet “banished” to the hot, volatile area which Rome had conquered. Their’s was a thankless commission. Hopefully, a job done well here would lead to a promotion somewhere more attractive. Days hung heavily with heat and humidity. Solace was sought wherever it could be found and in whatever form it would come. Today, it was a little game of blind man’s bluff. It may have gotten a bit out of hand, but then, soldiers will be soldiers. It was all part of a day’s work.
Pilate, Herod’s men of war, the Praetorium guard, all occupied with self and totally indifferent to the greatest Person they would ever encounter; totally ignorant of the greatest event ever to occur on earth. They were just going about a normal day’s work.
A gospel message? Men seeking to secure their position in the world, to squeeze a moment’s joy from a boring life, to solace themselves amidst the griefs of life – this is the common lot of mankind. Sadly, we are guilty as well, as believers, of pursuing the same ends.
Many differences exist between the One Lone Sufferer and His persecutors. But perhaps it can best be summarized by two contrasting words: “self” and “others.”