the evil of inertia

Our Daily Journey is now up and running, with all of the professionalism and networking ability that you’d expect from Radio Bible Class.  These devotionals are printed in attractive, 3 month booklets, and available on-line–just click on “Our Daily Journey” from the blog roll at the right.

Here is a Lenten type devotional that I’m thinking about submitting, though I’m not quite satisfied with the closing application.  It seems a bit broad and non-descript.  Any suggestions?

the evil of inertia

read > Mark 15:1-15

They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.


The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. supplies a staggering reminder of how evil we can be.  I was stunned by the hall of shoes, once worn by doomed Jews; the story of their methodical elimination in Krakow’s Jewish Ghetto; and their grisly death in Hitler’s concentration camps. 

        But most chilling was my recognition that the Nazi officers looked normal.  Worse, they looked like me.  My ancestors were Swiss German Mennonites, so I resembled the officers in the pictures.  They could have been my Sunday School teachers.  How did such normal people get caught up in such great evil?  They probably just went along.

        That is usually how great evils are committed.  Pilate wasn’t looking for trouble when Jesus was thrust upon him.  He didn’t realize who was standing before him, and he didn’t much care.  He just wanted the problem to go away.

        Pilate made a half-hearted attempt to do the right thing.  He invited Jesus to refute the charges and asked the crowd if he should release Jesus as a Passover favor. 

        But the Jewish leaders had stoked the crowd into a mob, and they demanded that Barabbas be freed and Jesus be crucified.  Pilate tried one last time, asking the crowd “What crime has he committed?”  When “the mob roared even louder, ‘Crucify him!’”, Pilate washed his hands of the mess.

        It was easier to give in to the cries of the moment than to seek justice for Jesus.  Pilate simply went along, and in so doing he crucified the Son of God.

        Jesus is present today in the poor and needy who are thrust upon us (Matthew 25:31-46).  Will we give them a hand or will we shrug and go along?  “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Proverbs 3:27).–Mike Wittmer 

more> Deuteronomy 15:17-18; James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17


next> How might we balance both justice and mercy?  Should we help everyone who is in need, or only those who are in need and it’s not their fault?







7 responses to “the evil of inertia”

  1. soulrenovatus

    How long is the devotional supposed to be? It feels like like there is a disconnect between your telling of Pilate’s story with today’s poor. Maybe it needs a transition sentence to connect the two? It just feels fragmented. I feel like, “what does the poor have to do with Pilate?”

    I’m guessing your length is limited, but there has to be a connection made b/w Pilate and your current example.

    Don’t know if that makes sense or helps.


  2. mikewittmer


    That’s a good point. I’m at the word limit, so that is a problem. I was hoping that “Jesus is present today” would supply enough of a transition, but I agree that it may not be enough. I’ll work on that.

  3. As much as I love that you are trying to connect your audience with loving the poor (especially since I rarely see devotionals make an application speaking out for justice for the poor and needy) the phrase, “Jesus is present today in the poor and needy who are thrust upon us” can be wrongly interpreted as advocating a sacramental view of the poor, that somehow Jesus is mysteriously present in the poor. Mother Teresa, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne and several of my urban ministry colleagues advocate it, but I seem some serious error in it, which I write about here.

    Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to correct it at this time. But give this some thought.

  4. mikewittmer


    Thanks for this. I wasn’t even thinking of that, but I can see how you or others might interpret it that way. I’ll look at saying it another way. How about, “Jesus is non-sacramentally present in the poor”? 🙂

  5. mikewittmer


    How about “Jesus is represented today by the poor”? It’s more awkward, but would that safely distinguish it from a sacramental misinterpretation?

  6. Would a quick reference to Matthew 25:31-46 resolve the issue of the relationship between Jesus and the poor, as well as work to focus the application?

  7. Allow me to clarify my previous post – I think that Mike’s quick reference to Matt 25:31-46 sufficiently resolves the issues, at least in my mind. I think you can do any better than using Jesus’ own words to draw the connection between himself and the poor among us.

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