Fear. We all face it and it’s nothing new. Warriors are not immune to fear but, we find the courage to overcome it. Most of the time.
A long since retired military commander named Pontius Pilate came face to face with a fear he couldn’t shake. He had served his time, been promoted, but was deployed to one of the worst assignments in the army—the land of Israel. The Commander in Chief, Caesar, assigned him the impossible job of keeping peace in a chaotic and unstable land. The Rules of Engagement were simple, hurt them before they hurt you.
The fateful day began like any other day for Pilate, but quickly unraveled when the jealous religious leaders demanded he judge and punish an up and coming leader named Jesus. He sought to appease them by having Jesus beat, mocked, and then released. Shockingly, the Jewish leaders wanted no part of the light sentence. They pressured Pilate to have Jesus crucified despite their hatred for the cruel torture that had been used against them time and time again. They simply hated Jesus more than Roman oppression. Their flimsy justification was Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God.
Who Is In Control?
At this point Pilate “was even more afraid” (John 19:8). He confronted Jesus with the charge and reminded Him that he had the authority to release or crucify. “Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…’” (John 19:11).
Pilate was even more convinced crucifixion was a bad idea, so he tried again to release him. That’s when the most damning charge was leveled against him. The Jews threatened that if he released Jesus, he would be no friend of Caesar. Pilate believed he had no other choice but to surrender to their demands.
What would make a military commander so afraid of the locals? Perhaps it was a belief that his current assignment, and more important his value as a person, was based solely on his performance. He had to keep the locals and Rome happy—an unmanageable task. His fear dominated him because it was built on the false assumption that value is found only in what he accomplished.
Identity & Value
Are we any different? Fear overwhelms us because we believe we are only as good as our accomplishments. Making the next rank, getting the best assignment, and making our commander happy determine our worth.
Jesus lived differently. If anyone should have been afraid, it was Jesus. He knew what was about to happen in the crucifixion, plus He knew His Father would forsake Him for a time (Psalm 22). Yet Jesus also knew that His value was based not on His performance, but God’s declaration of His identity as the Son of God.
It’s critical that we live knowing our value is determined by what God says about us, not how we perform. The Creator of the Universe, Commander of the Heavenly Army, says we are His special treasure, and nothing can change that.
Is that where you find your value?
Lord, remind me my value is found in what You have declared me to be. Help me to put away my fear and teach me how to balance my priorities without having to find my value in my performance.