New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 42

new church life: march/april 2017 defend himself of the charges against Him. Jesus did not give him much to work with and neither did the priests and Pharisees, but Pilate could tell that something was amiss. He was certain that Jesus was innocent of the mess of charges brought against Him, and he asserted this conviction, even shouting over the angry mob at his door to make his ruling known. (Matthew 18:23, 24; Mark 15:10, 14; Luke 23:14-16, 20, 22; John 18:38, 19:4, 6, 12) This trial set Pilate’s teeth on edge. This was not an ordinary sedition case, it was something more. Not only was it unsettling to Pilate, it disturbed his wife as well. She sent an urgent message to Pilate telling him to be careful because she had unsettling dreams about Jesus, whom she believed was innocent. (Matthew 27:19) Something was different. Pilate was accustomed to being in control, but his authority seemed to mean nothing to Jesus. (John 19:10-11) His authority, in fact, was challenged at every turn. Pilate was positive that Jesus was innocent, and he did all in his power to stick to this ruling. However, he had a weak spot: Pilate cared about his reputation. This case left Pilate feeling uneasy. He regularly feels shocked, anxious, afraid, even exasperated by the events that are unfolding. (Matthew 27:14, 23- 24; Mark 15:4-5, 14, 44; Luke 24:20-24; John 18:35, 38, 19:6, 8-10) Again and again, Pilate sputters, trying to hold his ground that Jesus is innocent, but in that moment his authority meant nothing to the crowd. There was only one ruling that would satisfy the mob: crucifixion. Pilate was loath to make that call, but when the crowd pressured him by calling into question his loyalty to Caesar, he broke. Pilate, despite his better judgment, gave in to the pressure of their demands and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. (Mark 15:15; Luke 23:24; John 19:12-16) The Biblical Pontius Pilate is a very compelling character. When we take all of his details into account, we are left with a sense of a real flesh- and-blood human being. The Biblical Pilate is a person with convictions and relationships. He is a person with strong character traits. He is willing to stand up for what he believes, but he has his limits, and when he gets pushed too far, he breaks. He seems committed to justice, but is also wary Echoes and shadows of Judas’ humanity remain preserved between the lines and verses of the Gospels. By taking a close look at his own words as recorded by the Evangelists, we can hear him calling to us, begging us to understand his life and struggles. 108