The Story of Pontius Pilate

When Pontius Pilate was new on the scene as Jerusalem’s governor, he began his service by hanging “Hail Caesar” banners all around town. If you know anything about Jewish history, you can imagine how well this went over.

The crowds grew larger and larger, and Pilate had a decision to make. What to do about these people? He could send in his military to quash the protestors or he could give in. Everyone expected him to meet force with force, and so he did. But something happened that he didn’t expect. Rather than fleeing or fighting, the Jewish protesters simply dropped to their knees. Josephus said, “they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed.” Pilate relented. The banners came down. The mob won.

Some say that the Jews learned something important about Pilate that day. They learned that Pilate was not the sort of man who stood by his convictions. They learned that, given the right pressure, he wouldn’t do what he had planned to do. He preferred the easy way out.

It was that lesson they exploited when they brought Jesus to him. Remember that Pilate was not convinced of Jesus’ guilt—he believed Jesus to be a guiltless man. He was warned by his wife’s dream to have nothing to do with this innocent man. Why did he order the death of an innocent man? He feared the mob.

Most of us don’t make decisions surrounded by throngs of protestors, but we do face the subtle pressures of a world that doesn’t always see things the way we do. We, too, face a choice. Will we stand by our convictions or will we take the easy way out