I sit in my chair, utterly bewildered by what’s going on around me. A mob of ruffians has gathered, shouting out their accusations and curses. Never before have I heard such a ruckus.
And to think these are their religious leaders.
Instead of following his heart, Pilate chose to wash his hands.
The soldiers at my side remain at attention but their eyes betray their emotions. Some are unsure of what to make of the situation. Others are hell-bent on blood. The blood of this Man. This Man before me.
So much has been said about Him, yet here He is now with nothing to say. He just stands. Beaten and bruised, but silent. Stoic. Still.
I have the power to pronounce life or death but something about this Man makes me feel utterly powerless. I am the governor; this could very well be the Son of God.
What, oh what, will I do with Jesus?
* * * * *
Poor Pilate. Imagine being thrust into a situation where it was your job to pronounce a sentence on Jesus Christ. In the words of Chandler Bing: “could that be any more horrible?”
Some of you may disagree and believe the decision would have been straightforward. “The innocent should walk free.” Maybe . . . Or maybe you just don’t realise the mighty tug-of-war in which Pilate found himself.
On one hand there were the religious leaders. They brought Jesus to the governor simply because they were too “righteous” to get their hands dirty. Then they used their social standing to pressure the crowd into calling for His execution (Matthew 27:20).
Politics also came into play. “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). The governor was already “under suspicion by the Roman government, and he knew that [an accusation of defiance against Caesar] would be ruin to him” (Desire of Ages, p 737).
Let’s not forget Satan’s involvement in all of this. His “rage was great” against Christ, and he was the one who ultimately “led the cruel mob in its abuse of the Saviour” (ibid, p 734, 735).
Pulling at Pilate from the other direction was none other than his own wife, who in that critical hour became a messenger of God. “Pilate’s wife was not a Jew but as she looked upon Jesus in her dream, she had no doubt of His character or mission. She knew Him to be the Prince of God” (ibid, p 732).
The governor’s own conscience was also hard at work. Pilate knew in his heart Jesus was innocent (John 18:38; 19:4, 6), and was “convicted, and had been during the entire trial, that the Prisoner was more than a common man” (The Signs of the Times, January 31, 1900). He wanted nothing more than to set Him free (John 19:12).
What, oh what, will I do with Jesus?
Instead of following his heart, Pilate chose to wash his hands (Matthew 27:24). And for that we call him a coward.
In a way that’s a fair assessment. But then again, the same Jesus who Pilate failed to save once said only the sinless should throw stones (John 8:7).
There’s another reason why we should refrain from pronouncing judgement on Pilate: his predicament is our own. Go back and read the scenario at the start of this article. That story is my story, as it is yours.
The fact is you and I sit where Pilate sat all those years ago. Before us stands Jesus. He says not a word but we know who He is. The voices around and within us are calling for us to either curse or claim Him. At times the noise can be deafening. But despite the pressure, the decision is ultimately ours. The fundamental question we each need to ask ourselves is not “What would Jesus do?”—it’s “What will I do with Jesus?“
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20).
Right at this very moment, Jesus is standing right there before you. What you do with Him is up to you.
Linden Chuang is digital editor of Adventist Record.