It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.
Over two thousand years later Pilate is still known for this one event in his life more than anything else. It's what he is known for on earth, and it is certainly what he is known for in heaven. Jesus was crucified under his watch. The crowd may have cried out "His blood be on us and on our children" and Pilate may have washed his hands of the situation, but invariably his memory is linked with the crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 27:24-25). Yet, as this event played out in Pilate's life, it passed him by without gaining his full attention. He had to be told that Jesus was already dead. How sad to think that the most important moment in a person's life, their big kingdom moment, could come and go without their ever noticing the significance of it.
I believe one reason Pilate did not take more notice was because he was not focused on the things of God or the advancing kingdom of God. It is clear from Mark 15:15 that Pilate was firmly entrenched in the ways of the world and maintaining his prestige in the world. This verse tells us that the whole reason Pilate crucified Jesus was to please the crowd before him. How much evil in our world has occurred because of cow-towing like this! How our Lord must hate it when we live to please men more than to please our God. Had Pilate been in tune with the things of God, had he been anxiously awaiting the Messiah, he would have paid more notice.
Are you in danger of letting the most important kingdom event in your life pass you by without taking full notice? Don't be caught off guard. Don't be surprised and end up on the wrong side of your big moment with the Lord. Stay in tune with Him and seek after Him every day. Choose to live your life wholly to please Him and no one else. Develop a posture of anxious waiting for the return of the Messiah and work to advance His kingdom until He comes.
Father, open our eyes today to the kingdom moments you place before us and enable us to seize them and make the most of them for Your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
For further reading...
- Mark 14:32-15:47- Read the full crucifixion narrative in Mark.
- Matt. 27:24-25- Some additional details from Matthew.
- Luke 23:1-25- Luke includes the detail that Pilate tried to avoid the responsibility for Jesus' fate altogether by sending Him to Herod. Pilate tried to pass the buck, so to speak.
- Luke 18:18-25- This is another example of someone who messed up their big kingdom moment. Jesus said the same two words to this man that He said to His twelve disciples: "Follow me." This man walked away.