Pilate's Quandary (John 19:4-16; Matt. 27:24)

Cristo davanti a Pilato , oil on canvas painting by Giuseppe Vermiglio

Cristo davanti a Pilato, oil on canvas painting by Giuseppe Vermiglio


The gods lurk everywhere,

Even, perhaps,

In this wretched Nazarine!

How can I judge the judgment

Of this world

On one whose very presence

Scorns the power of death?

The breath of other-worldly royalty

Stirs upon his lips

And blows my threats away.



The people shout for blood

And wait upon my word.

Their guilt is greater--

So he said--

But mine is great enough,

And leaves no room

For subtle sophistry.

If "truth" has brought him here,

Then "truth" will have to save him--



But not through me.

Long ago I banked the fire of truth

That I might not be consumed.

The open flame is in his eyes,

And brooks no compromise.



I turn my face

And call for a basin

Of lukewarm water.

                                 --Elton D. Higgs

                                   Aug. 25, 1978



Elton Higgs

Dr. Elton Higgs was a faculty member in the English department of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1965-2001. Having retired from UM-D as Prof. of English in 2001, he now lives with his wife and adult daughter in Jackson, MI.. He has published scholarly articles on Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl Poet, Shakespeare, and Milton. His self-published Collected Poems is online at Lulu.com. He also published a couple dozen short articles in religious journals. (Ed.: Dr. Higgs was the most important mentor during undergrad for the creator of this website, and his influence was inestimable; it's thrilling to welcome this dear friend onboard.)