• Remembering Pilate’s actions.

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    Above, a painting of Pontius Pilate by Giotto di Bondone in 1305.

    This is NOT a sermon.

    There will be those Readers of this organ who will be reading this, today’s article having returned from a Good Friday service of prayers and mediation.

    As stated above, today’s article is not a religious sermon and is not and should not to be taken as promoting the Christian faith – that it is not the purpose this organ was set up for.

    Nevertheless, those Readers who will have attended such a service will have contemplated upon the suffering Christ suffered on this day some 2000 years or so ago. One of the questions some people raise about these events is this: “If Pontius Pilate wished to “wash his hands” of his involvement in putting Jesus of Nazareth to death, then why did he hand him over to his soldiers to be flogged?

    Well from a point of 2,000 years in the future one may say, “Who can know?” But the sickening fact of the matter might well be that in ordering Jesus to undergo a Roman flogging, Pilate’s objective was to hasten Jesus’s death upon the cross and therefore not prolong his suffering. Roman floggings were brutal and did result in the death of the prisoner in many cases. This was because Pilate knew that he had before him a guiltless man. Crucifixion was a slow as well as an agonising death – Jesus died after three hours – some victims of this horrific act died after three days.

    To repeat however, the point of this article is not religious but rather to comment upon the depressing fact that since those times humanity has indulged in brutal and horrific forms of execution by torture. In England there was the method of hanging, drawing and quartering, in Europe there was “breaking on the wheel” and across England and Europe there was “burning at the stake” and “boiling alive” – all hideous and barbaric acts that sicken all save those who clearly require psychiatric help.

    A question many will ask is this: “Why the sickening torture – is it not enough to execute the condemned without torture – is not the punishment of death enough?

    Well to those in authority death in and of itself was not deemed a sufficient punishment. The object of these barbaric punishments – which were carried out in public – was to instil fear. The sad fact of the matter is that throughout most of human history many rulers or ruling elites have sought to rule through fear. It also has to be realised that in the time of Christ and up till fairly recent times, mortality rates were high and people were well acquainted with death.

    The depressing fact of the matter is this: There are still many regimes today (Mr Mugabe the despot in charge of the former Southern Rhodesia is a prime example) who rule their populations through fear and repression. These regimes regularly torture those they deem subversive.

    Although this is not a religious text it is however worth mentioning one aspect in relation to Jesus’s life. After his resurrection Christ did suggest that if people wanted to help him when he was gone (physically that is from Earth) were they to carry out acts of kindness and generosity they would be carrying out those acts towards him. Logically therefore, the corollary is true. Mr Mugabe, take note.

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