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Mark 15:2-15; Matthew 27:11-26; Luke 23:1-25; & John 18:28-19:16


So what’s up with Pontius Pilate?  I don’t know, and I think that’s the answer.  Let’s take a closer look.

His role, and the entire capacity in which we see him, is Roman governor for Judea.  As such, he’s got one real goal: keep the territory under control for the stability of the empire.  It’s in pursuit of this goal that Pilate meets Jesus.  He doesn’t seek Him out, either to learn from or to challenge or to harm Him.  Jesus is brought to Pilate as a political problem to be solved, and it’s not unlikely that Pilate hadn’t heard of this Jesus guy until his briefer handed him the talking points for this meeting five minutes prior.* 

This is different from almost everyone else who has met Jesus and been forced to consider the content of what He said.  Pilate limits his scope to the impact of Jesus’ ministry.  With the priority he places on the goal of local stability, Pilate is essentially a pragmatist, valuing order over justice with a cynicism that would make Machiavelli proud.

The problem is, Pilate’s standard is not God’s standard, and the central question to our spiritual and eternal identity in God is Who do we say that Christ is?  What do we do with Jesus?  In this light, Pilate’s response seems a huge cop out.  He knows what he is doing is wrong, which is why he made a show of ‘washing his hands’ clean of the affair. 

Ultimately, Pilate seems to me like a perfect example of a modern, Western intellectual.  He compartmentalizes his responsibility and undermines the moral challenge he wrestles via dismissal.  ‘What is truth?’ he asks.  Ironically, he asks the question to Truth Himself, standing before him in the person of Jesus Christ. 

So what’s up with Pontius Pilate?  I don’t know because he declined to answer.


* Sorry, bureaucrat speak is a hard habit to break.


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