Pontius Pilot, a Roman governor of Judea from A.D. 26-36, will forever be known for his role in the crucifixion of Jesus. Historical accounts of Pilot describe him as a cruel, ruthless, and an unimpressive man governing a seemingly insignificant Roman outpost. He was given his position through marriage to the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus. The historical accounts are consistent to what we see in scripture where he tortures Jesus and condemns him to death while knowing he’s innocent.
What I notice the most in scripture is how weak and cowardly Pilot is. His driving emotion, through the whole encounter with Jesus, is fear. He was afraid of the mob, the Jewish leaders, Jesus, Caesar, etc. One of his last acts, motivated by an evil fearful heart, is recorded in John 19:16. “Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.”
I’ve read this many times but today while I was reading a commentary I was really impacted by the words of Charles Erdmen. He said:
“You may do today exactly what Pilate did. He is simply an example of a man who lacks decision of character, who does not possess the courage of his convictions, who tries to compromise with wrong, who disobeys conscience through fear of personal loss.”
His words struck me because I know much of my Christian life has been lived like this. Lacking decision of character …not possessing the courage of my convictions…compromising with wrong…and disobeying my conscience. Sadly much of my Christian life has been lived looking more like Pontius Pilot than like Jesus Christ.
On the surface, it might seem like Pontius Pilot and I have nothing in common. But look at his fear…the motivation for his actions, the thing that sets him on his course in his life. He was weak, cruel, and unremarkable, and his decisions were motivated by fear of personal loss. He wanted power, comfort, and respect. And his chief concern was making sure that nothing disrupted that. It’s at this level where he and I (and probably many of you reading) converge. Fear of personal loss is where I start to look a lot like Pilot.
It’s discouraging and sad…but it’s not the end of our story.
God is gracious and loving to us. Not only did he sacrifice Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, He has given us His Spirit in this life to guide and help us. We are forgiven and we are given the Spirit of power. God knows our weaknesses, fears, and sin, and He has chosen to remove our offenses from us and remember it no more. We truly are free people who have all things in Christ. Even though we struggle and fail, in Christ, we have nothing to lose. Our hope and our salvation are secure. We have a loving Father who meets all of our needs in this life and the next. What an incredible and blessed thing!
What is your driving motivation? Is it fear of personal loss? Maybe people won’t respect you, like you, or want to spend time with you if you are unwavering in your convictions? Maybe it loss of comfort if you actively engage in missions and sacrificially give of your time and money?
As Christians, missionaries, people looking to eternity, let’s look more like Jesus than Pilot. We should be motivated by love, not driven by fear. Imagine what impact we would have on our families, our neighbors and our world if we consistently were people who had unwavering courage to our convictions, and who refused to compromise with wrong. Compromising with wrong, giving ground to evil, little by little is a reality in our lives because we fear personal loss. Imagine if we lived as people that embraced the reality that we have nothing to lose.
If you’d like to support Casey and his wife, Meg, as they serve with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact them directly to talk further about what it means to be on their support team and find out how you can be praying for them!