I HAD TO find the rest of the group. But I didn’t even know where to start looking. Maybe they went back to Abigail’s home. That was the last place we’d been before the garden, but I was so turned around that I wasn’t even sure if I could find it again.

The streets were crowded with people, and I heard someone say they heard that Pilate was going to release a prisoner. Jesus was going to be released. Pilate must have realized the charges against Jesus were bogus.
I wasn’t there earlier when Jesus needed me, but I could be there now. When they released Jesus, I could help get him to someplace safe. Someplace where he could recover, and we could start over, it would be just like it used to be.
I joined the crowd making its way to where Pilate was holding court. How long had it been since Judas led the guards to Jesus? It seemed like days, but it was just hours.
When we finally arrived at Pilate’s house, the steps were empty. Where was Pilate? Where was Jesus?
I couldn’t believe the number of people who had gathered. There must have been hundreds. Why were they here? Was this part of the crowd from last week? Had they come to demand Jesus’ release?
Then, the front door opened, and a man stepped out and raised his hands to quiet the crowd. It could only be Pilate, but he certainly didn’t look like much. With short hair and a shaved face, as was the custom of the Romans, he looked pretty ordinary. But there was something about him. A sense of power that came partly from his position but also emanated from the man himself.
When he spoke, his voice silenced the crowd milling around the front of his house.
“When I discovered that Jesus, the man sent to me by your priest, was from Galilee, I sent him to Herod to deal with.”

Herod! It was Herod who had killed John. It was Herod’s father who had butchered the children of Bethlehem in an attempt to rid himself of Jesus thirty years ago. My heart sank. Herod was a mad man. At least there was some sense of justice with the Romans, even if it was flawed.
Herod was insane. Everyone in Galilee knew that. The man had killed his first wife, his mother-in-law and three of his sons. It was said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son.
There was no hope for Jesus.

But then Pilate spoke again, and just like that, hope was returned.
“But surprise, surprise. Apparently, Herod did have the time or desire to deal with one of his own. So, Herod’s problem has become my problem again. Here he comes, your King.”
A group of soldiers came from behind the house, pushing Jesus in front of them. He had been beaten even more, but he held his head high.

Jesus turned to face the crowd, and Pilate performed a mock bow, “May I introduce King Jesus.”
Someone in the front of the crowd yelled, “We have no king but Caesar!” The mob took up the chant, and Pilate had to raise his hands to speak.

“I’ve talked to this man, and he is innocent as far as I’m concerned. Caiaphas has asked for his death, but I see no reason to execute this man. He may have caused problems for Caiaphas, but he has caused no problems for Caesar or me.

“It’s Passover, so I’ll have my men flog him, teach him some manners, and then let him go.”

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