Prayer for the day
My heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.
Scripture for the day
Approaching God’s dwelling place must have been quite a nerve-wracking experience for the high priest, Aaron. It wasn’t as though he could just make an appointment and show up before God Almighty. Instead of just dropping by, there was an enormous rigamarole he had to perform. Sacrifice, special linen clothing, cleansing. Encountering God was something important, something fearful, something, frankly, terrifying. Aaron’s sons had recently died because of the way they approached God.
In our Second Testament reading today, two men met God in very different circumstances.
Judas met God when he hanged himself out of remorse. He was so wracked with guilt that he returned the payment he received for betraying Jesus and killed himself. We know the circumstances of his meeting, but we do not know the outcome.
The other man who met God that day was Pilate. Pilate was the governor, and Jesus was brought to him on some pretty significant, if trumped up, charges. Instead of remorse like Judas, however, in Pilate we meet almost something like awe. He can’t believe that Jesus would take the accusations people are making about him lying down. He can’t believe Jesus won’t fight back. He can’t believe that the crowd would call for Barabbas instead of Jesus. He can’t believe that his wife would have a dream warning him about having anything to do with Jesus.
In the end, Pilate washes his hands of the whole affair. He gives us a sense that he doesn’t want the outcome, but doesn’t want to have to be strong enough to force a different outcome.
Aaron meets God through meticulous religious rituals, fearful and wary. Judas meets God in remorse and suicide. Pilate meets God in conflict, tension, and ultimately, in politically driven cowardice.
How ought we to meet God?