Who is the Pontius Pilate in Your Life?

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” – John 19:10

Have you been in a situation where you have no advocate? No friends to help you? No one to look out for you? Have you had a job where everyone around you takes every chance they get to put you down? Are you in a family that pushes you out and has never been there for you?

A Piece of Jesus’ Life

I believe that we all will experience pieces of Jesus’ life at various points in our own life. God calls us to conform to Christ, and so the more we become like him, the more our life reflects his own.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. – Colossians 1:15

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Romans 8:29

The spiritual gifts allow us, at the right time, to perform miraculous feats of healing, prophecy, wisdom, and more, just like Jesus throughout his life. We can even experience his death and resurrection in parts of our own lives. We can experience his baptism, his communion, and his Church family. So if we can experience all of this, what about his meeting with Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion?

If you are facing a situation where you will meet a Pontius Pilate in your life, just like Jesus, there are several things to look out for.

Alone Near the End

Before Jesus was brought to Pilate, he was battered and bruised, beaten and rejected by everyone in authority:

“What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” – Matthew 26:66-67

All of his friends abandoned him:

“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. – Matthew 26:56

Then Peter began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” – Matthew 26:74

Does this mean you’re going to be physically hurt, and literally rejected by absolutely everyone? Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s consider the reality of the situation and how it can apply to you, if you’re not a missionary or in a situation that would cause you to be persecuted.

When the end is near for a job you have, or a social change, or anything that could dramatically shift your current situation, there’s going to be a period of loneliness before you face your Pontius Pilate. At work, you probably have coworkers you consider friends, or people that might look out for you or mentor you. But then things are going to get tough. The work you’ve done will start to be used against you:

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. – Matthew 26:59

And even if your work is squeaky clean, always on time, always doing a good job, it’s not going to matter:

But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. – Matthew 26:60

No Advocate

If you have coworkers, family, or friends that speak up for you when you’re under attack like this, that’s a wonderful thing, however it means that you’re not going to face a Pontius Pilate in this situation. You’re experiencing something similar to King David. When he was facing betrayal, like Jesus, he went to the mount of Olives:

But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. – 2 Samuel 15:30-32

But unlike Jesus, King David was not alone. And David didn’t face a Pontius Pilate. But what if you’re about to face what Jesus faced? Your coworkers, friends, advocates, or leaders will be silent. And I’m not talking about everyone, I’m talking about people who have the ability to change your situation.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? – Isaiah 53:8

I know it seems bleak, but it’s a grim reality that if you want to be more like Christ, there will be times when you’re going to experience parts of his life. And this is certainly a sad, lonely part of his life.

So the work you’ve done won’t save you, your friends won’t advocate for you, and your leaders are out to get you. Where does Pontius Pilate come in?

Pilate’s Characteristics

The Pontius Pilate you will face near the end of your particular situation will have several characteristics:

1. You’re not the only one they’re affecting

There are many religious sects that advocate for Pilate’s righteousness, for a number of reasons. But make no mistake, he was a wicked man, and he did not serve God. But the commonality you’ll find in your Pontius Pilate, and Jesus’, is that they’re hurting more people than they know, and you’re not the first:

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. – Luke 13:1

2. Inability to see the truth

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus mentions that one seed, eaten by crows, represents the following:

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. – Matthew 13:19

Your Pontius Pilate will not understand the truth. They will be staring directly at the truth and say:

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. – John 18:38

This means there’s nothing you can say, nothing you can do, that will change their mind. So how do you respond?

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7

3. Desire to Humiliate

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” – John 19:10

Lording their power over you is another clear sign that they’re a Pontius Pilate in your life. And the reality is that they do have authority over you. In a job, they’re likely your boss. In a family, maybe a parent or head of a household. Either way, Jesus acknowledges the authority Pilate truly does have, given to him by God:

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:11

4. They’re facing internal conflict

While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” – Matthew 27:19

In the reality of Jesus’ situation, there was a lot of spiritual warfare going on with Pilate’s wife. If she succeeded in convincing him to let Jesus go, there would have been no crucifixion. Satan tried many, many times to delay and stop the sacrifice, but ultimately it all failed. If you’re facing a Pontius Pilate, they’re going to be facing a lot of conflict and spiritual warfare surrounding any number of things in their life. They will be full of fear, confusion, disillusion, or apathy and denial.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. – John 19:1

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” – John 19:4

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. – John 19:16

What Do We Do?

Ultimately, we know Pilate ordered Jesus to be crucified. What does this mean for us, when we face a Pontius Pilate in our own life? What happens in the end?

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. – Isaiah 53:9

If we’re following Jesus’ path, we’ll die to our situation, our job, our family, or whatever we’re facing. It will end, we can’t stop it, and it won’t be easy. But the hope is what lies beyond Pilate. Pilate didn’t give us salvation, Pilate didn’t raise Jesus from the dead. The Pilate in your life cannot save you from the situation you’re in. When you die to your job, your family, your situation, someone will pull you out and into a new job, a renewed relationship with family, a new situation.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied. – Isaiah 53:11

But before this happens, before the end of your situation comes, there’s two things you need to do when facing your Pontius Pilate:

1. Forgive the people who didn’t advocate for you, forgive the people who wronged you, and forgive your Pontius Pilate

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Don’t harbor resentment, don’t hold anything against them, don’t lash out, just forgive them.

2. Ask God to deliver you from this situation, but commit yourself to his will if you are meant to suffer through it

At any point, God could have a plan to take you out before you face your Pontius Pilate. At any point, your friends could advocate for you like with King David. At any point, your Pontius Pilate could see the truth and change the situation. But that may not be in God’s plan for you. Do what Jesus did and ask God to save you now if it’s his will:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:42

But if you’re meant to go through it all to the end, commit yourself to it. These were the final words of Jesus, before dying on the cross:

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46

In the end, you will be saved. Jesus was resurrected from death, and you will be resurrected from your job, your family, or whatever situation you’ve died to.

3. Be Still

Finally, if all else fails, when you face the Pontius Pilate in your life, just remember the word of God:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

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