Being Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was responding to several pressures in his decision to crucify Jesus, and different people have different assessments in how he handles the situation of Christ. Early on, Pilate comes to the conclusion that Jesus is an innocent man, and that He was brought before Pilate for political reasons. However, he displays a lack of inner conviction when put against the pressures surrounding him. In Luke 23:4-7, Pilate is recorded as trying to wash his hands of the matter, and he also tries to release Jesus three or four times. Unfortunately, he finally bows to political and social influences. He allows self interest to take priority. He bowed to the crowd, and he allows an innocent Jesus be killed.

Pilate in Our Lives

In Matthew 21:25, Jesus turns the questioning of the religious leaders back on them, and they are caught in political consequences. They fail to make a stand, and they demonstrate a lack of inner conviction. Likewise, Pilate tries to make Jesus into Herod’s problem. There are many people who profess to believe in God or Jesus but will not submit to His will. We want to be told what to believe and that we are okay doing exactly what we are already doing. We can lack inner conviction when it comes to our service in God. Do we worship because social or family pressures dictate it, or do we do this because we believe it is the right thing to do? Do we know what we believe and why we believe it?

In John 19:12-13, Pilate realizes a veiled threat in the crowd’s response to his desire to release Jesus. He knows releasing Jesus could result in political suicide, and he put self interest before justice and truth. Likewise, we might find ourselves in similar situations with our jobs or our families, where we may not want to sacrifice what we have for the cause of Christ. We might feel that our ungodly personality traits are justified because, “That’s just who I am.”

Finally, in Matthew 27:17-21 and in Luke 23:23, Pilate allows himself to be swayed by the mobs. He gives in to popular opinion, and disregards what he knows to be the truth. Peer pressure can be a difficult thing to deal with, but, if our conviction is strong enough, we can make the right decisions despite what others might say. Doing what is popular is not always the correct thing to do, and we should be able to tell the difference when such moral dilemmas arise.


If we start with God’s will, His word, and His promises,we can begin to build the character lacking in Pilate. When tempted in the wilderness, Jesus always falls back onto God’s word, and the psalmist describes that same word as a light to guide our feet. When we are faced with decisions, we should know those principles that guide us, and, in His word, we can know God’s will. In I Samuel 15:22-23 Samuel asks Saul what is more pleasing to God – serving God on his own terms or on the Lord’s terms? Also, Psalm 51:10-17 reflects this idea that we should be directed by His will. Wrapping up, in I Corinthians 7:1 encourages to use God’s promises as motivating factors for our godliness, and Hebrews 6, as the author warns of spiritual immaturity, we are reminded to remain diligent to obtain God’s promises in verses 11-12.

We do not have to succumb to the same pressures that swayed Pontius Pilate. There are many things that influence our lives, but we can gain aim. We can strengthen our resolve to place God before self interests and social pressures. We can be more than this ruler we read of in the trial of Jesus, and we can gain strength from God in this process.

lesson by Tim Smelser