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Thursday of Lent 4

Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” — John 19:11

Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” He was wrong. While sin made civil government necessary (Genesis 9:5–6), government is not evil. In fact, Article 16 of the Augsburg Confession says that civil ordinances are good works of God and that Christians can and should serve in civil offices.

In fact, we pray for good government when we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Why do we pray for this? Look at the countries where government is not good or non-existent. Think of the pain, hardship, and death caused by civil war, brigandage, and corruption. Our government is not perfect, but look at the wealth and commerce which occurs despite its imperfections!

Once again, we see Jesus bereft of His daily bread. Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea, was a coward. He did not maintain justice and punish wickedness. Because of the mob, He publicly executed the only Innocent Man on earth and released a murderer. While others bear greater sin than Pilate, his hands were not clean, despite his ablutions.

Pilate’s cowardice and the chief priests’ envy were great sins, to be sure. But God brings forth good from evil, without diminishing the evil nor sullying the good. Pharaoh’s oppression led to the deliverance of Israel’s children. And Pilate’s failure led to the greatest good which the world has ever seen: the reconciliation of God with man.

Lord Jesus Christ, You suffered at the hands a cowardly and unjust government. We pray that You would give us better rulers than Pilate. We pray that You would bless and defend the President and congress of these United States. We ask that You would endow our own state governments with discernment, so that they might promote justice and restrain wickedness. We ask this so that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives and that Your Gospel might be spread throughout the world. Amen.

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