Analyzing Pilate’s Mistakes
A. He has been immortalized in our song books w/songs such as - What Will You Do With Jesus? & They Watched Him There
B. His life & public service are recorded by all the ancient writers.
1. He was the 5th
governor (procurator) of Judea, the only province of the Roman Empire in
Palestine overseen by a Roman rather than a Jew. He had a military force of 3k
soldiers under him. His judicial authority was supreme, except in cases of Roman
citizens, when appeal to the emperor was possible. Rome tried to give a large
amount of self-govt. In some provinces, including Judea, where local bodies of
govt. (like the Sanhedrin) were allowed to retain as many judicial functions as
possible. Death sentences, however, required the governor’s confirmation & were
executed by him. Most governors badly abused their authority. Judea was
constantly in tumult, mostly over religious division. Christ stood before Pilate
in such volatile conditions.
2. Pilate was appointed procurator in 26 AD & served a long term of 10 yrs. There were many spats between Pilate & the Jews during that time. According to Luke 13:1, Pilate had even resorted to slaughtering the Jews on at least that occasion. The Jews, on the other hand, had successfully appealed to Caesar at least once to overrule Pilate’s decision to hang shields in Herod’s palace (where Pilate likely lived whenever in Jerusalem). He apparently feared the emperor’s ability & inclination to punish or even depose him. Philo calls Pilate "inflexible, merciless, & obstinent." One thing is sure. There was no love lost between Pilate & the Jews. He offended them even in the title over the cross & irritated them by refusing to remove it (John 19:22). He seems like a typical worldly man, whose goodness wasn’t strong enough to overcome his personal considerations.
3. Pilate’s reign ended after he was overly harsh & brutal, killing several Samaritans at Mt. Gerizim who had gathered out of religious zeal for the Jewish religion. Legend has it that Pilate committed suicide. Very old tradition claims Pilate’s wife became a Christian. Her name is thought to have been Claudia Procula or Procla. Some have even identified her as the Claudia of 2 Tim. 4:21, but of this & Pilate’s demise we can’t be absolutely certain.
C. While he was probably not as wicked as Philo portrays him,certainly is not a man we can hold in high esteem.
1. In the gospels, where we meet him, he seems like a man who wanted to let Jesus free but had no stomach for a fight with the Jews.
D. But Pilate made at least four moral & spiritual mistakes:
I. He tried to
shift responsibility to others
A. Lk 23:5-7 And they were the more fierce, saying, he stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
B. Pilate didn’t want to get involved in a situation he likely found trivial at 1st
C. As soon as he found a convenient way out, he quickly took it
1. He sent him to Herod for Herod to decide the matter.
D. So often, people try to resist taking personal responsibility for Christ.
1. They blame
others for the fact that they’ve not obeyed him
2. They abdicate their responsibility & expect others to serve him
3. They may even think they can be saved by the faith others have in him.
E. From Pilate’s mistake, we learn that we can’t leave our decisions on the doorsteps of others–we must accept or reject Jesus.
1. Lk 11:23-He who is not with me is against me; & he who does not gather with me, scatters.
II. He sought to
compromise with evil
(Lk 23:13-16-And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests & the
rulers & the people, 14 said unto them, ye have brought this man unto me, as one
that perverteth the people: &, behold, I, having examined him before you, have
found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 no,
nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; &, lo, nothing worthy of death is done
unto him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, & release him.
A. There was nothing wrong with Pilate’s reasoning power.
1. He was in the
right on this matter–Jesus was completely innocent.
2. He had been fair, having examined Christ in their presence & weighing the charges against him.
3. The right thing to have done would have been to release Jesus unharmed, but he tried to satisfy the crowd (Mark 15:15).
B. He knew what was right & wrong in this situation
1. The mob wanted
Jesus dead; Pilate said, "Therefore, I’ll punish and release him."
2. Yet he found out nothing short of Christ’s death would satisfy them.
C. So often we try to compromise concerning Jesus today.
1. We’re afraid of offending those in religious error, so we soften our rhetoric & are apologetic in our tone when talking about the one, true church.
a. We can’t be ashamed of what the Lord so forcefully teaches.
1) Mt 15:13; Eph
4:4; Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18.
2) We can get afraid of sticking out in the crowd for our moral stand, from societal issues like abortion & homosexuality to personal issues like conduct & worldly entertainment.
D. We must learn from Pilate’s mistake that you cannot compromise with evil (Ep 4:27-neither give place to the devil).
1. Satan won’t settle for anything short of our complete surrender.
a. 1 Pt 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 whom resist stedfast in the faith.
E. Moses knew that there could be no compromise with Pharaoh.
1. Moses’ message
was "Let my people go, to worship the Lord God."
2. Pharaoh wanted Moses to compromise.
a. Worship God in
b. Don’t go too far away.
c. Leave your wife & children behind.
d. Leave your possessions.
3. Satan seeks us to do the same today
a. Stay in the
b. Don’t go too far away–don’t change.
c. Don’t influence your family to serve the Lord.
d. Don’t put your possessions to work for God.
F. Remember what we learn from Pilate–You can’t compromise with evil.
III. He thought he
could wash his hands of the situation.
A. Mt 27:24-& when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water & washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to that yourselves."
B. Pilate saw the ruckus & riot & minimized his own part.
1. By this time,
Pilate’s wife had told him about her dream (19).
2. Jesus had already had at least two private conversations with him.
3. The more contact he had with Christ, the more convicted he became.
4. But his moral courage failed him ultimately.
C. His ceremonial act did nothing to excuse his guilt.
1. Jesus told him he’d sinned (Jn 19:11-You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered me up to you has the greater sin.
D. From Pilate we learn that you can’t wash your hands of Christ.
1. You can’t take
the moral high ground & stand above the fray.
2. We’re sinners & we’re part of the fray.
3. We cannot disclaim our part in His crucifixion.
E. Until we’re convinced we’re sinners in need of grace, we’ll act like Pilate & wash our hands of his blood.
1. But he died for
each & every one of us (Rm 3:10,23)!
2. He gave himself a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6)!
3. He died for all (2 co 5:14-15)!
IV. He gave up (Mt
27:26-Then released he Barabbas unto them: & when he had
Jesus, he delivered
him to be crucified.
A. In the end, Pilate lacked the strength to do what was right.
B. Ultimately, Pilate handed Jesus over–he didn’t stick by Christ even though he knew his death would be injustice.
1. His own interests & self-preservation were more important.
C. Sadly, people follow Pilate’s example even today.
1. When faced with a choice between the world & the Lord, they give up.
a. Mt 6:24; Mk
4:18-19-And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these
are the ones who have heard the word, 19 And the worries of the world, & the
deceitfulness of riches, & the desires for other things enter in & choke the
word, & it becomes unfruitful.
b. Many are Demas-like & love the present world too much (2 Ti 4:10).
c. Many are overcome with sorrow & hardships & leave him (Js 1:12).
d. Many find his expectations/teaching too hard to follow (Jn 6:66).
e. Many cannot stop serving sin & satisfying the flesh (Rm 8:6)
f. Many only want enough religion for Sunday & don’t live their faith.
D. All of these
choices are the same as giving Jesus up.
E. We can choose to give Jesus up–we have that right.
1. But that choice carries consequences (Mk 8:38-For whoever is ashamed of me & my words in this adulterous & sinful generation, the son of man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels.
F. We need to learn from Pilate’s tragic choice of giving up Christ.
A. Pilate asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus.
1. But the crowd ultimately couldn’t choose for him; he chose & he made the wrong choice.
B. Centuries later,
an unknown writer wrote a poem about this:
Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall, friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
Hearken, what meaneth the sudden call, what will you do w/Jesus?
Jesus is standing on trial still, you can be false to him if you will
You can be faithful thru good or ill, what will you do w/Jesus?
Will you evade him as Pilate tried, or will you choose him, whate’er betide?
Vainly you struggle from him to hide, what will you do with Jesus?
Will you like peter, your Lord deny? Or will you scorn from his foes to fly
Daring for Jesus to live or die? What will you do w/Jesus?
Jesus i give thee my heart today! Jesus i’ll follow thee all the way
Gladly obeying thee! Will you say, "this will I do w/Jesus"
What will you do w/Jesus my friend, neutral you cannot be
Someday your heart will be asking o friend, what will he do w/me?
C. In this life, Jesus is on trial & you must be the judge.
1. Some day, you will be on trial & Jesus will be the judge.
D. What will you do w/Jesus?
1. You can’t shift
this responsibility to anyone else.
2. There is no compromise–it’s obey or deny.
3. You can’t wash your hands of the matter–you’re involved.
4. You can’t, in view of eternity, give up!
E. What will you do tonight?