Who was Pontius Pilate?
He was a prefect in the Roman province of Judea, was known as a brutal leader, and was notorious for the cruel treatment of his citizens. Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and contemporary of Pilate, described Pilate’s rule as one of corruption, insolence, cruelty and unjust murders of people untried and condemned (1). Luke 13:1 records that Jesus was informed that Pilate had killed Galileans as they made their Temple sacrifices and mixed their blood with the animal's (3). Pilate, whose name means 'one with a spear', used terrorism as a tool for preserving his status of power.
Yet surprisingly, when Jesus was presented to Pilate, he was reluctant to condemn Him to death for the following reason. Matthew 27 tells us that as Pilate sat on his judgment seat, he was given a message by his wife. That night she had a nightmare about Jesus. Realizing that He was a righteous man, she pleaded for Pilate not to harm Him. Her warning left an impact on his decision making process. One can deduce that his wife had a history of dreams containing messages that came to pass.
Also, Pilate discerned that the religious leaders were jealous of Jesus. This was the true reason why they wanted Him publically condemned and cruelly murdered. The pharisees believed that this “Jesus movement” would dissipate, and they would rule the synagogue once again. Like himself, the religious leaders ruled the people through terror.
Pilate tried one strategy after another to convince the religious leaders and their crowd not to condemn Jesus to death. Every intervention was thwarted.
Even though he had been divinely warned, correctly ascertained the religious leaders motives, and found Jesus blameless, Pilate did not defend this innocent man. Instead he freed the murderer Barabbas (interpreted as 'son of the father', a symbol of the anti-christ), had Jesus whipped, passed the death sentence of crucifixion, and washed his hands of the situation in a symbolic ceremony. Matthew 27:24, Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” Pontius Pilate took the path of least resistance. He was all form and no substance.
Josephus, a first century Romano - Jewish historian (2), recorded in c. AD 93, that Pilate was removed from his position after harshly suppressing a Samaritan revolt on the date of 16 March AD 37 (1). His handling of the Samaritans' caused Pilate to be deposed because the Roman government considered him inhumane. History records that a few years after he was deposed, Pilate committed suicide (1).
Although God intervened, Pilate threw away his opportunity for redemption.
Father, You are so merciful. You provide everyone with opportunities for redemption and it is up to us whether or not to take it. Give me the boldness and the courage to always stand up for You and to do what is right. I give You my life. You may do with me as You will. In Jesus Name, Amen.