By Shane Kastler
A major figure in the crucifixion of Jesus was the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Ultimately, it was Pilate who had the authority to release Jesus or to execute him. And his final decision was to give in to the demands of the Jewish leaders and crucify Jesus. Yet all throughout the proceedings, Pilate argued fiercely that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death and that he found no fault in him. Pilate clearly didn't want to be responsible for the death of Jesus. But we might ask the question, “Why?”
It wasn't because Pilate was a righteous and peaceable man himself. History tells us that he was a violent dictator who had no problem putting people to death. Sometimes on massive scales. Certainly the execution of one man from Nazareth wouldn't have bothered him. Unless, Pilate knew that the man from Nazareth was more than a mere man. The Bible tells us that Pilate's wife warned him that Jesus was a “righteous man.” (Matt. 27:19) Furthermore, we are told that when Pilate heard the Jewish charge that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he became frightened: “The Jews answered him, 'We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.' Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.” (John 19:7-8 NASB)
It seems that on some level, Pilate was boxed into a dilemma. On one hand he hated the Jews and was loathe to given into their demands on anything. Yet he was charged to keep the peace and a lack of peace could easily lead to him being removed from power by the Roman authorities. The best way for him to keep his power was to appease the Jews and kill Jesus. But he seems to have known that there was more to Jesus than met the eye. In the end, he killed Jesus; and still lost his power. He was removed by Rome a short time later. And according to history, he ended his life by suicide.
Pilate's dilemma is one that faces you and I as well. What are your thoughts toward Jesus? Do you perceive that he is more than a man? Do you recognize him as God's son? Do you understand that he died to pay a price for sinners who come to him? Have you turned from your sin in repentance and submitted to Christ as Lord by faith? Does your life daily reflect that? One day soon your time on earth will be over. And the only thing that will matter is what you did with Jesus in this life. Pilate made a wrong turn and followed a path that leads to eternal destruction. Learn from his mistake and live your life in loving obedience to the Son of God.