“When the chief priests, therefore, and the officers saw Him, they cried out, saying ‘Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!’  Pilate said unto them, ‘Take Him and crucify Him—for I find no fault in Him.’  The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.’  When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid—and went again into the judgment hall and said unto Jesus, ‘From whence are you?’  But Jesus gave him no answer.”

John 19:6-9

Our answer to His question of “Who am I?” (Mt. 16:15) will determine our eternal destiny.

Pontius Pilate was the fifth Roman procurator, prefect or governor of Judea, ruling from A.D. 26-36.  His primary function was to serve as the chief financial officer for the Roman emperor in a specific province and oversee his property, while also collecting taxes and paying the troops in the Roman army.

Little is known of his personal life, although the Jewish historian, Josephus, suggests that he was probably an Italian-born citizen whose family was wealthy enough for him to qualify for the middle class.  He also probably held various military posts before his appointment to Judea.

The Scriptures tell us he brought his wife, Claudia Procula, to live with him at Caesarea, the headquarters of the province.  It’s also clear he was never very popular with the Jews because of his insensitivity to their religious convictions and stubbornness in pursuit of his policies.  However, his vacillating on what to do with Jesus. . .torn between “finding no fault with Him” (Jn. 18:38; 19:4, 6), his fear of the Jews and possibly losing his position (19:12-13). . .reveals his glaring weakness of character.  It also shows how an unprincipled achiever will always sacrifice what is right in order to accomplish his own selfish goals.

What’s interesting in today’s Manna is the fact that Pilate became quite anxious when the Jews’ charge against Jesus was “He made Himself the Son of God” (19:7-8).  Most likely, he was more into Roman and Greek mythology than he was Jewish theology and the thought that he might be executing a son of one of the gods unnerved him—as did Jesus’ refusal to answer his question “From whence are you?”

Yet, again, his fear of possibly getting into hot water with Caesar overrode his concern over Jesus’ identity and origin.  And, even though his wife sent word to him about a troubling dream she’d had about Jesus and advised him “to have nothing to do with that just Man” (Mt. 27:19), he still succumbed to his fears of possible personal loss of position, power and prestige and thought he could (literally and figuratively) wash his hands of the matter and be free of any guilt (Mt. 27:24).

But such did not work then.  And, it still doesn’t work today.

We must always “cast our lot” one way or the other on Who Jesus is.  As the old Gospel song says, “Neutral you cannot be.”  Therefore, Christ’s clarion call to follow Him is clear:  We’ll either be “for” Him or we’ll be “against” Him (Mt. 6:24).  May we, like Jesus’ first disciples, choose to follow Him (Lk. 9:23-26)—for it certainly has eternal consequences.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated June 22, 2010

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