Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Who's on trial?
For all kinds of reasons, members of the new-covenant community should operate with a hermeneutic, an interpretive posture, of suspicion vis-à-vis the powers, since those powers crucified Jesus. The Gospel of John reminds us that political power is often blind to the truth of God and, we should probably say, to truth more generally. in John’s passion narrative we have the famous scenes of Pilate coming in and out as he exercises his political power, in deference to the crowds and the emperor, by questioning Jesus and having the innocent man flogged and eventually crucified (John 18:28—19:16a). But when Jesus identifies himself as being on a divine mission to witness to truth, Pilate asks, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). For readers of John, this is not the sincere question of a philosopher-king but the question of a blind politician so caught up in the web of imperial untruth that he cannot recognize truth when it is standing in front of him, the incarnation of truth, the one who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Thus, as Raymond Brown said, “the tables are turned; and Pilate, not Jesus, is the one who is really on trial,” for his question about truth is “in reality a decision for falsehood.” [A Crucified Christ in Holy Week, 10].— The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant, page 219-20