When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” (John 19:8-10)
Read: Daniel 7:1-28, 1 John 1:1-10, Psalm 119:153-176, Proverbs 28:23-24
Relate: We don’t know much about the man. We don’t know where he was born or who his parents were. Yes, there have been a few ideas bandied around but I have seen nothing of legitimate substance. We do know he was of the equestrian class. That means he was minor nobility kind of like a knight who was trying to swim in a world occupied by barons, dukes, and earls. At least… that’s what we think. We do know for a fact that he only lasted in Judea for a couple years after the crucifixion of Christ. We are also pretty sure two years after being recalled he died. Maybe it was in Rome, maybe in a backwater posting in Spain. Some think his body was dumped in the Tiber after his death. There is apocryphal writing that he became a Christian. Probably not. A slight majority of historians will say that he committed suicide but even there it is split between those who think it was a voluntary act and those who believe Caligula ordered his suicide (a common occurrence during that reign).
We don’t know… We think that… Our best guess is… Many believe… words like this need to be used when talking about the history of Pontius Pilate outside of his brief time in Palestine. Until the early 1960s there was a good number of critics who even fairly legitimately questioned if such a person existed. Outside of his interaction with Jesus on that one fateful day Pilate was a nothing. He was a nobody in the rivers of history. This was a man who probably thought he had done pretty good for himself considering his social status. This is the man who thought he had power over Jesus during this encounter in John. Little did he realize that the only reason people know or care about him today is precisely because of that encounter with Jesus.
React: Are we a big shot? When we look over our life to this point, do we have reason to be proud? Are we influencers in our workplaces and communities? Do we believe people respect and value our opinion and insight? When we speak, do things get done?
For some of us that answer might be an unhesitant no. We might view ourselves as nobodies. We are the microbes that the plankton devour before getting eaten by the little guys who are then swallowed by the big fish. Others reading this might really think we are something. We are CEOs or entrepreneurs or someone else who is in a position of influence. At least, that is what we think. In reality big or small the only thing that really matters, the only thing history will care about, is the same thing that made Pilate famous. In the long run, all that really matters is what we do with our encounter with Jesus.
14 thoughts on “Mr Big Shot”
So simple, so true, yet I never looked at it this way. This is definitely thought-provoking. Thank you.
Actually, they know quite alot about Pilate. The historical Pilate would never have given in to the Jewish crowds demanding the death of an innocent man, demanding the release of a murderous insurrectionist, nor would he even care for the intramural debates of their religion. And by the way, there was no such custom of releasing a prisoner for Passover. Outside of the nt, history does not record such a thing at all. Neither Rome nor Pilate gave a single thought to the religious sensitivities of the Jewish people. Fiction thru and thru
Lol. Everybody knows a lot about Pilate, but they all seem to disagree with each other. Outside of his stint in Judea there is nothing but conjecture. Feel free to share your sources and I would be more than glad to pick them apart, if they are really saying what you claim.
Thou shalt not ask one to prove a negative. 🙂
I said we don’t know much about Pilate outside Palestine. You said we know a lot about Pilate. So I said, OK, show me where, who, what sources? I think that is a reasonable request.
It’s not reasonable if the next step is “you can’t prove it didn’t happen”
What is asserted without evidence (the gospel account of Pilate and the yearly practice of releasing a prisoner for Passover and his sensitivity to Jewish demands) can be dismissed without evidence.
Please demonstrate these things are historical facts from your sources outside the nt. This would be the reasonable request
chronicling the history of the Roman administrators in Judaea, ancient Jewish writers Philo and Josephus describe some of the other events and incidents that took place during Pilate’s tenure. Both report that Pilate repeatedly caused near-insurrections among the Jews because of his insensitivity to Jewish customs.
Josephus notes that while Pilate’s predecessors had respected Jewish customs by removing all images and effigies on their standards when entering Jerusalem, Pilate allowed his soldiers to bring them into the city at night. When the citizens of Jerusalem discovered these the following day, they appealed to Pilate to remove the ensigns of Caesar from the city. After five days of deliberation, Pilate had his soldiers surround the demonstrators, threatening them with death, which they were willing to accept rather than submit to desecration of Mosaic law. Pilate finally removed the images.
Thank you for this “information” but you keep missing the entire point of what I wrote. I said,
“We don’t know where he was born or who his parents were.”
Do you know? Are there sources I have not seen that give firm and solid information about this?
I then wrote: “We do know he was of the equestrian class. At least… that’s what we think.”
Do you know? Can you provide solid historical documentation regarding his social status?
I also wrote: “We are also pretty sure two years after being recalled he died. Maybe it was in Rome, maybe in a backwater posting in Spain. Some think his body was dumped in the Tiber after his death.”
Do you know of anything beyond educated guesses regarding his time, location, and means of death?
What about family. He had a wife, that we know, what about kids? Cousins? Siblings? What was his career arc before taking on his post in Palestine? How old was he at the time of death, or at any other point in his career?
I said we don’t know much about him, you said yes we do. Please… fill in the blanks. I love history and if you have sources that I don’t know about regarding any of this, I would love to see it. The entire thrust of this devotional was that Pilate thought he was the one with power in this interaction but as history played out, he was a nobody compared to the impact Jesus had on the world. Is this not true? I will concede that it was not just this direct encounter but rather his entire tenure as prefect of Palestine that we do have a good amount of information. It was never a point I would have argued and if that was what your original claim was, you are right and I was wrong to argue it. I mistakenly thought you were referring to the claims in the article to which you responded. What was I thinking?
Again, getting back to the point at hand, what was true for Pilate is also true for you and I. We might feel like we are incredibly important or influential in life. We might feel like we are relative nobodies. Either way, appearances can deceive. In the long view of time, the only thing that will ultimately matter will be what we do with our encounter with Christ? This is an opportunity for you to have one such an encounter. What will you do with it?
A quick Google search and Wikipedia would yield much including what Josephus and Philo if Alexandria said about Pilates intransigence and insensitivity to Jewish customs. Please, avail yourself of the wonderful resource that is the internet to research outside the confines of the nt.
Thank you….this is consistent with the research i have done on the historical Jesus vs the Biblical portrayal. Many would call us blasphemers however i would rather understand vs being a “sheeple”
This exchange for me is the tough part of comments and internet communication. I am not here for an argument or to be criticized..I love exchanges wherein we might discover something…if only another’s opinion.
Have a beautiful and FUN day!
sounds like you’ve done a good job presenting your ‘argument’ ‘criticizing’ my comment. maybe you’re better at it than you thought. i think you used the right word though. exchange. not necessarily agreement or polite ambivalence. communication is all about exchange. i am sorry to have offended you though by my comment offered in disagreement with the post. enjoy the day. -KIA
Great insight BJ. Usually for me when my head gets too big God sends a messenger with a pin! Thank God for his grace!
Wow! This gives me a lot to think about. You just may have answered that age old question, “what is the meaning of life?”