Eternal Reflection – “The Prisoner” (Part 1) by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II

John 19:12-16 (KJV) “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.”

The names of only a scant few of the spectators that were present and witnessed the trial and crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ are recorded in Scripture.

Following is a possible “Eternal Reflection” of one who witnessed the “Passion of the Christ” firsthand…

I loved to follow my father around as he walked through the city and visited with his friends and cohorts.  He told me over and over, “Boy, keep your mouth shut when I’m talking, and don’t ever interrupt me OR any other adult when their speaking!  You will learn a whole lot more if you keep your ears open and your mouth shut!”

Now, one might think that my father was being abusive to me.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  He was training me to “take over the family business” when he either died or decided to retire.

I loved the way the men of the city would show respect for my father.  It didn’t take long for me to notice that whenever my father would walk up to a group of men, they would immediately stop talking and make sure that they greeted him with an outward expression of respect.  They all wanted to shake his hand or pat him on the back.  I especially enjoyed watching as some of the men who were the apparent leaders of their groups assumed a more submissive posture when my father walked up.  In my early years, I assumed it was because they loved my father.  I later learned it was because they feared him.

My father said, “Son, there are two reasons men will respect and follow you – love and fear.  I’ve learned that people have a way of falling out of love – fear lasts much longer.  It’s okay if others love you; BUT, it’s more important that they fear you – it will only help them want to ‘love’ you longer!”

My father had a quick temper.  I recall one day that my father said, “Son, stay close to me at all times unless I tell you to ‘step aside!’ Don’t ask me any questions at that time – just step aside to a safe place and watch your dad!”

We left the house earlier that morning.  As we approached the gate of the city, there was a group of men gathered just inside the gate and one, rather large man, stood with his back to my father. I judged him to the leader of the group.  My father said, “Step aside!”  I didn’t ask him any questions!

The next thing I saw was my father walk quietly up to the group, pull out the dagger he always carried hidden under his cloak, and drive the dagger into the center of the large man’s stomach as he turned him around.  I’ll never forget what my father said when he did this (I “stepped aside” just far enough away to not get in my father’s way, but close enough to see and hear), “Ananias! You will never betray us, or our cause, again!  I never give anyone a second chance!

The other men surrounded my father as he performed this “execution.” It appeared they were providing a shield so there would be no other witnesses to what he did.  As soon as Ananias fell to the ground, my father called me to his side and said, “Son, what did you learn?”

I really didn’t know how to answer my father’s question.  I couldn’t get the sight of Ananias’ blood out of my mind, BUT, I learned earlier that my father did not have any patience with weakness.  I said, “Father, I prefer to learn the lesson correctly the first time.  Please tell me what you desire for me to know.”

His response became one of my core values, “NEVER give an enemy a second chance to betray you!  NEVER expect anyone to give you a second chance to do the right thing.  There are NO ‘do-overs,’ so get it right the first time or be man enough to face your consequences!”  From that day, I’ve lived my life with this principle.

My father hated the Romans.  He seemed to hate everyone who did not agree with him.  My father always got what he wanted – one way or the other!  I never heard my father threaten anyone – he made “promises.”  I recall, as he instructed me, “Son, never threaten a man.  There are two reasons for this – first, you will be warning him and giving him time to prepare.  Second, you will have to follow through or be willing to give up your position in leadership.  If you do not threaten, you will still have the opportunity to change your mind if you get more facts to warrant doing so. The ONLY regrets I have are when I had to follow through with what I said I would do even after I knew it wasn’t right.  It is more important to be ‘believed’ than to be loved!

My mother wanted me to go to school.  My father told her, “I’ll teach my son everything he needs to know.”  My father taught me to always tell the truth, that is, at least to those you trust.  Otherwise, if the people were untrustworthy, they did not deserve the truth!  Now, he would not tolerate lying because he said, “If a man will lie to you, he will steal from you.  If he will steal from you, he will kill you.”  However, my father taught me to be silent, or avoid a response, if the person I was speaking with did not deserve the truth.  My father was silent most of the time in the presence of Romans or their Jewish “puppets.”

I told you earlier, I loved to follow my father around as he walked through the city and visited with his friends and cohorts.  As I became more mature, the greatest compliment I was given was when one of my father’s closest friends said, “You not only look like your father, but you also act just like him!”  My father’s face seemed to glow when he heard his friend say this!  It was an appropriate statement; for, my name meant, “son of the father.”  I purposed to live up to my name!