Sunday, October 20, 2013

Den Of Lions (part 8)

As far as Pilate was concerned, and based on what was sure to have been the experience of provincial governors throughout the empire of Rome, someone making an absolute claim to kingship would not be standing there completely alone.  In addition to that, the accused would more than likely be calling down judgments upon Rome, making proclamations about his innocence as he protested the abuses of imperial power and the illegitimacy of Rome’s rule.  According to the accumulated record of these events, Jesus did none of these things.  He is said to have answered simply and briefly. 

What would have made this scene all the more amazing to Pilate was that in the midst of all of this, Jesus was being “accused by the chief priests and the elders,” but “He did not respond” (Matthew 27:12).  Pilate, seeming to be (and probably) utterly perplexed by this, says “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?” (27:13)  Jesus, however, “did not answer even one accusation” (27:14a), and summing up the entirety of the situation in which he found himself, Matthew adds to his narrative concerning the most important event in all of human history that “the governor was quite amazed” (27:14b).  Apparently, Jesus acted in a way quite unlike anyone Pilate had ever encountered. 

Returning then to the book of Daniel, and in contrast to Jesus’ experience, one does not there find a trial.  It is conspicuous by its absence.  In consideration of that fact, it could be said that Daniel was as quiet and as reserved as was Jesus, with Jesus taking up a Daniel-like posture as He endured the circumstances to which His life and mission had come.  If the Biblical narrative holds true to form, it is likely that Daniel offered no particular defense.  If Darius would have asked him if the accusations that were being made against him were true, it is probable that Daniel would have said something like “You say so.” 

One can easily picture the scene in which the satraps and the governors and the other supervisors of the kingdom were making these accusations as Daniel stood before Darius, with Darius saying “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?”  Daniel, providing the fore-running example through the presumed strange silence in this area, in which a trial (if there was one) goes unreported, would most likely have not answered even one accusation, so that the king would have been quite amazed. 

A bit further on in Matthew, it is reported that Pilate “knew that they had handed Him (Jesus) over because of envy” (27:18).  This is an important social consideration in the honor and shame culture, and goes further than simple jealousy.  Based on the presentation of Darius, one can be assured that the Persian king knew this to be true of those that were handing Daniel over to him.  Such would have been grounds for an additional objection that could have been raised and pointed out by both Daniel and Jesus, but the records demonstrate that they were not. 

Daniel knew that the ordeal would be difficult, but he also knew that the authority of a kingdom was coming to him (because Darius wished to appoint Daniel over his entire kingdom---6:3b).  Likewise, Jesus knew that the ordeal to which He was then being subjected and which was going to get far worse in the hours to come, would be extraordinarily difficult.  However, He also trusted that it was a path that required traversing because of His hopes that the authority of a kingdom was coming to Him as well.   

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