John 19:8-11 – “When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.’”
We all know what the pressure point feels like. In that moment, all of the complex variables of life have converged to one moment where it feels like there is a vice squeezing in all around us as we feel the pressure intensely.
In the dramatic scene where Jesus Christ is on trial before Pilate, accused of declaring Himself to be God, the two men are under incredible pressure. Pilate had problems at work and home. At work, he was pressed by local religious leadership who wanted Jesus executed. If that didn’t happen, they might bring a riot and drag his boss, the Caesar of Rome, into the conflict, which could likely cause Pilate to not only lose his job but also his head. Face to face with Jesus, Pilate knows that He is a good and not a guilty man, something Pilate states no less than seven times in the four gospels before killing Jesus. At home, Pilate had pressure from his wife who was warned by God in a prophetic dream that Jesus was a good man (Matthew 27:19). Pilate, who was likely a spiritual and superstitious man, feared his fate. Despite the opportunity to do right, Pilate ultimately violates James 4:17 and has Jesus sentenced to death, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
Face-to-face under the same pressures, we see five dramatic differences between Pilate and Jesus.
- Pilate got political and sought a political compromise which brought failure. Jesus got prayerful and spent an entire night seeking the will of God which brought faith.
- Pilate tried to win and sought the outcome he wanted. Jesus tried to worship and surrendered to the outcome the Father wanted.
- Pilate rejected what was right and experienced internal bondage with fear and burden. Jesus accepted what was right and experienced internal freedom and a burden lifted so that He was freer than Pilate, who held him in custody.
- Pilate thought short-term about this life and a kingdom that came to an end. Jesus thought long-term about eternal life and a Kingdom that never ends.
- Pilate killed Jesus so that he could live and later committed suicide, killing himself. Jesus was killed and later rose from death to live forever.
Which of these five failures of Pilate do you relate to most? Why?