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Under Pressure: Pilot's Choice

Few people in history have faced pressure to compare with Pontius Pilot.

His situation was not an easy one: Jesus brought before him with heavy charges on his head but no proof of any of them, an angry mob of Jews pounding at Pilot’s door, an interrogation that revealed no crime, and a prisoner whose quiet simplicity pleaded innocent in Pilot’s conscience. I’ve always thought it would be awful, to have that choice in my hands. What is the truth? Pilot had asked Jesus. Needing answers. Wanting someone to tell him what was right.

We know the choice Pilot made in the end, to wash his hands of Jesus’ blood and throw him to the Jews. But I can’t help but wonder if, after that pivotal choice, Pilot ever did get to sleep that night.

Pilot was weak. He treasured his position. Releasing Jesus would have been seen as disloyalty against Caesar and could have cost him everything . . . in the material sense, at least. I like to think he knew in his heart who Jesus really was, and if circumstances had been different, he might even have believed. I like to think he wanted to, that he wanted what Jesus was offering. But in the end, though he may have longed for freedom, there was something in the way. Something he valued more.

It’s easy to look at Pilot as the ultimate failure, but he’s not the only one to have faced that choice. We face the same decision every day of our lives: between choosing what we want for ourselves, and choosing the freedom we find in Christ.

Just like Pilot, we know the truth. We know that Jesus is God’s Son, and the only redeemer of our souls. But just like Pilot, things can get in the way. Things that seem so important they drown out all else, wedging themselves between us and Christ until we feel like we can never give them up, not even for the freedom he offers. No one can make that decision for us; it’s a choice we face every single day. But we can be victorious where Pilot crumbled under pressure, and it starts with choosing Jesus over me.

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