Since I have joined the ministry and really took my role as a writer and messenger of God’s world seriously, it has become a real necessity for me to not only read scripture but to study it. In the midst of studying scripture, some of these studies and the small parts of the moments and/or events really stick out to me in ways that most others probably never think of.
Often times, I’ve wondered exactly what was going through the mind of Pontius Pilate as Christ was brought to Him, during the meeting Christ, and after the meeting as he could not find any fault with Christ but he still allowed the execution to go through. It’s impossible to understand what went through the man’s mind without speaking to him or having some sort of idea or knowledge and considering it’s impossible to speak with him now and there’s very little that is known of the man, such thoughts will remain such.
However, what we do know is what we are told within scripture and very little of it is good when speaking of Pilate. We know that he was the governor of Judaea during the time of Christ’s ministry and was the cause of slaughter of certain Galileans. This information helps us get inside the mind of Pilate and from my research, I understand that Pilate was a supreme judge and had sole authority t order executions. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a law and order guy so I sympathize with Pilate’s position but with that said, from what we know of Pilate and his actions, I cannot support.
From what I have read of Pilate, he was the type of guy that stopped at nothing to accomplish his goals regardless what it cost and by any means necessary and apparently, if he wasn’t able to get something done, he would resort to brutal force which should the last resort for any law enforcement official. The reason this information is important for me is it does provide a profile of the man, some sort of personal understanding the helps us understand how and/or why he operated which is critical when trying to understand different events. However, despite the fact Pilate was a strict law and order guy, the fact that he allowed an innocent man to die does not fit his profile.
What Pilate’s actions do reveal, from the way I read his actions from the account of the different Gospels, anyway, is that Pilate was afraid. Not afraid of making a decision, necessarily, but afraid of what Caesar may think. If Pilate acted a certain way or made a certain decision that Caesar didn’t like, Pilate either feared his job, his life, or both. This doesn’t seem like the profile of a real law and order guy, one that would do whatever it takes to get the job done even if it mean resorting to brutal force, and it makes me wonder what his real motivation was. When we think about it, according to his very own words, “Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4).
Apparently, while this man may have been a scrupulous law enforcement officer, it’s hard to justify not finding any fault in someone, believing their innocent, but still allowing for the request(s) of people seeking vigilante justice to go forward. In other words, Pilate allowed for the request of the Jewish people to go forward despite believing Christ and finding no fault in Him but gave into the crowd that was out for nothing but blood: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). When we really read into this matter, we find that we read just a verse prior: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24).
Ironically, Christ was found guilty of treason when, in fact, Pilate was guilty of treason himself. Treason is the act of betraying a person’s country either by trying to overthrow the government and/or attempting to kill a sovereign government. What Christ did was speak the truth by declaring His identity but Pilate was fearful of what might happen if he did not give in to the Jews which is strange because a law enforcement officer, regardless of rank, does not give into pressure if they truly adhere to the laws of the land. Obviously, this was the case with Pilate and while Pilate did give in to the Jews and allowed for the death of an innocent man, by allowing for Christ to be killed, he was guilty of being an accomplice to a murder but what I found to be iron, in the end, Pilate was found dead but his death remains a mystery as it is unclear if it was a suicide or a murder.
While issues like this are fun to discuss and we can go in and out about different scriptures, we are unable to come up with answers that are beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, and this is one of the best things about scripture, because scripture is alive and active then we do not have to worry about the past and the things of yesterday. There’s nothing to do about it anyway as we cannot change anything and while it would be great to know what was going through Pilate’s mind at different events, perhaps they are not important because Christ knew the people and the places and the exact events needed in order for all things to happen so we can rest knowing that, although Pilate’s cowardly moment allowed for the death of our innocent Savior, he was needed for our salvation: “Great [is] our Lord, and of great power: his understanding [is] infinite” (Psalms 147:5).