Necessary Evils: Pontius Pilate

'Is this your picture of the flight out of Egypt?'
Pontius Pilate is not necessarily under appreciated--we all know who he was and what role he played in the bible. He was the governor who sent Jesus to be crucified...right?

I think Pilate gets the short end of the stick in his story--he get's such a bad rep as the guy who sent Jesus to the cross. he let Jesus Barabbas, a real criminal go, and let the Jews kill the Son of Man. But how much of that was his idea? The story that is told in John, at first glance is the same story as in every other Gospel. But a closer look shows us that he wanted to let Jesus go; he found no basis on which he could charge Jesus. He knew that he had done nothing wrong, and in fact, he knew who Jesus really was and feared what would happen to him if he let Jesus be crucified.

Despite knowing who he was dealing with, he was forced to let them crucify Jesus. The crowds didn't leave much room for discussion--they were all chanting "Crucify, Crucify," and "we want Barabbas!" On top of the crowds bullying him into his decision, it was also a rule at that time that during the Pass Over Festival, Jews could choose one prisoner to free. They chose Barabbas.

We clearly see that Pilate didn't want Jesus to be the one to die, but in a very brief, and easily missed part of the story, we see that Pilate knew Jesus--

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Pontius Pilate, a Roman, a friend of Ceasar, knew who Jesus was and believed in him enough to write it above his cross. This is a huge part of the story that is so easily overlooked. It shows how compelled he was by Jesus and what he was willing to stand up for. This, I think, is how Pilate 'made things right,' so to speak. He witnessed to the Lord by entitling him King of the Jews. He did a good thing in the midst of the bad that he didn't get to choose.

We know he had no say in the matter because Jesus tell Pilate that while he is being questioned.

9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Jesus knew that Pilate ultimately had no say in the matter and that this was all a part of God's plan--he just happened to be the Governor at the time that Jesus was to be crucified. So why don't we ever look at him that way? Why don't we see him as a necessary piece of the puzzle?

I think this happens in our everyday lives: we have to be the bad guy or the barer of bad news. We have to be the one to get someone else in trouble, hurt someone's feelings, or lay down the law where no one wants it laid. And instead of everyone seeing that it's necessary, they get mad at you. And it hurts and it is hard. Can you think of a time where you have had to be Pilate? Have you ever been the one who gets hurt because of the necessary decision?


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