Decision-Week 5 // Pontius Pilate // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 27:11-26

Dear Church,

‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility!’

So says Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, as he washes his hands and knowingly condemns an innocent man to death.

It’s a terrible irony we are all too familiar with–Pilate, who has absolute power to condemn or pardon Jesus, pretends to be powerless and performs innocence. 

But saying, even believing, you are innocent doesn’t make it so.

Why was Pilate unwilling to use the power he was given to do the right thing? Though he was ‘amazed’ by Jesus, found evidence of no crime, recognized the self-interested duplicity of the accusers and was warned by his wife ‘not to have anything to do with that innocent man,’ Pilate decided to have Jesus crucified.  And he found a way to rationalize that decision.

Just as we all do when we knowingly participate in evil. 

For centuries, Christians have abhorred Judas for betraying Jesus.  But there is a long and rich tradition of believers venerating Pilate as a ‘secret Christian,’ even a saint.  Why do we condemn Judas but excuse Pilate?

Maybe because, in our heart of hearts we know that like Pilate, we have more power than we acknowledge and more culpability for the unopposed brutality of our world than we care to admit.

I hope you’ll join me as we soberly consider the life of our brother Pilate, what he did, what he should have done, and how we can seek Jesus for the grace and power to live faithfully in critical times.


Pastor Kate

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