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    Pilate: Don't Fear the People

    July 16, 2014
    Filed Under:
    Bible Character Series


    By Joe Smith

    As a kid I remember reading about Jesus being brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who was about to decide Jesus’ fate. I always thought Pilate was a really scary person. He just seemed to me like a real tough guy who didn’t really care about anything. He had this care free swagger that made him seem untouchable.

    If you read the account in any of the Gospels about Pilate (Mt. 27, Luke 23, Mark 15, Jn 18-19) you will find that I was severely mistaken in my analysis of Pilate. You might even question whether I read the story at all! Pilate struggled with the same issue we all wrestle with. He wanted to do the right thing, but he was afraid of the results and reactions. “How will doing the right thing help or hurt me?” Pilate wasn’t this confident and intimidating guy who scoffed at the people. He was terrified of the people!


    Pilate was also afraid of Jesus. The Governor was under the impression that Jesus was simply claiming to be “King of the Jews,” but it says once Pilate found out that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God “he was even more afraid” (John 19:8). What if Jesus was who he said he was? What if Pilate executed a god? Pilate was going through all of the scenarios in his head and he couldn’t win with any decision he was to make.


    After questioning Jesus he knew that execution was not what he deserved. Pilate’s own wife even sent him a message telling him to leave Jesus alone because of a terrible dream she had (Matthew 27:19). It seemed that Pilate’s only reason for not doing the right thing rested on fear. What would the mob do? Would they riot? Would they go to Caesar (his boss) and tell him what a lousy job he was doing? Would they tell Caesar about how he released a man who was claiming a position higher than Caesar himself?


    In our own lives we can be thankful that our daily decisions may not carry as much weight as that of Pilate’s on that day, but we are still faced with constant decisions. This doesn’t only apply to on ice behavior. Our thoughts, words, and actions need to be assessed all the time. Are you looking out for your best interest or is God’s joy and glorification your only factors in decision making? As human beings we have a conscience and when we go against what we know is right then we are not glorifying God (James 4:17).  


    As you may already know Pilate did buckle under the pressure and Jesus was crucified. I can’t be too upset with Pontius Pilate because through his selfish decision it gave me the right to become a child of God (John 1:12). The story also gives us an interesting contrast. Pontius Pilate and Jesus face to face shows us one man who had his own best interest in mind. The other had only the best interest of others on his mind. Don’t fear the people. Jesus didn’t and he lives in you.  

    “For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).



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