I think Pilate has lost his mind. But more on that later.
Episode four of “A.D.” deals with Peter and John’s trial before Caiaphas, the death of Ananias and Sapphira, meeting Barnabas, and the ongoing angst surrounding the assassination attempt against Pilate.
First things first. This Peter is awesome. He’s been awesome from the start, but I love seeing him come into his own as a leader, listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I enjoyed that they let the sin of “lying to God” settle for awhile, and then Peter came into awareness and called them on it. That’s one of those controversial moments in scripture; that amid a great revival of communal spirit and forgiveness of sin, two early Christians withhold the entire truth from God and are struck dead, just as the man who reached out to touch the Arc of the Covenant was struck dead in the Old Testament.
Same God, different circumstances. Obedience is still important. The early Church had to be pure. I’m interested to see if these repercussions play out next week; scripture says that the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira filled people with dread and a new found respect. Will this flow over into Boaz’ stay in the encampment? He has sought them out as a hiding place, knowing they will not turn him over to the Romans, but in harboring him, he is endangering them all. Talk about a test of faith for the early church! Do you harbor an assassin knowing it might bring the wrath of Rome down upon you, or do you push him out? Where does love come into it? How much forgiveness can be offered? What would Jesus do? What will Peter do?
I loved the little glimpses of characters that will become significant later; we saw a chink in the armor of Cornelius, when he chose to beat Stephen rather than kill him (“I want you to live… because I am merciful”); from what I have heard, they are building into Cornelius being the first Roman convert that Peter encounters in Acts 10, at the end of the season … so I am as interested in his journey as anyone’s. Stephen is … fearless, and that makes me afraid for him; his boldness will get him killed, but in the meantime he is an enthusiastic follower who trails Peter around with a look of total awe on his face. The meeting with Barnabas was wonderful too; I love how the crack disappeared when John looked down for it – and he knew that he had been sent there to meet Barnabas.
I really enjoyed the healing of the sick child and the trial sequence; in the former, we got a sense of Peter grappling with a power he cannot fully understand and potentially is afraid to wield in its full scale, only to then “name it and claim it,” in a sense, and perform a miracle. In the latter, they built up the suspense nicely over whether or not the lame beggar would support their cause. I sat there gritting my teeth and HOPING he wouldn’t lie! Some have complained about the Holy Spirit being portrayed as a breeze but… I like it. It gave me goosebumps.
Caiaphas continues to be probably my favorite character, merely because he’s such a religious fanatic, totally devoted to his faith to such an extent that it blinds him to the truths unfolding around him. He’s a man caught between a rock and a hard place, so fearful of change and the repercussions of rebellion that he would do anything to prevent the Romans from crushing them; yet he still finds the courage to march into Pilate’s office and threaten him if the crucifixions do not cease. Pilate forcing him to eat the ashes of his dead Roman centurion was a nice (brutal) touch. Likewise, I enjoy that Caiaphas and Pilate’s wives are starting to interact; I knew it was only a matter of time before the “silent powers behind the respective thrones” started to speak the same language… although I really find it interesting that of the two, Leah has more power over her husband. She pushes him into a lot of things, whereas Claudia tries and Pilate proverbially slaps her back into place.
Speaking of which, I’m puzzled over Pilate and Claudia. I can’t quite discern her motivations or feelings, and that is keeping me in limbo about whether or not she loves him. Last week’s seemingly tension-filled conversation with Cornelius has faded into her increasing sense that her husband is losing his mind; and he may be! Obsessively crucifying Jews, and building stick figures out of his dead Centurion are not the behaviors of a healthy mind. Jerusalem seems to be having an adverse reaction on both of them, and each of them knows it – earlier in the season, Pilate wanted Claudia to go back to Caesarea because he knew she would become “more her old self” away from Jerusalem; this week, Claudia questions what is happening to the diplomat she married. Is it guilt? Since Pilate embraced the darkness, is he becoming more like Satan? Interesting dynamics at play here, which could stem a lot of conversations about earthly principles and powers of darkness.
Historically, there is no basis for the subplot involving the crucifixion of ten Jews until Boaz is found, but it is inspired by several different historical events centered around Pilate – most notably, the death of twelve Galileans inside the temple whom he targeted as insurrectionists; he mingled their blood with those of the temple sacrifices, making the temple unclean on the eve of the Sabbath. So, it is in character for Pilate, but completely fictional. I don’t mind. I want to see where it goes.
Next week, we get to see the Angel free Peter and company from prison. Exciting!