Pilate’s Conversion?

Pontius Pilate sat as judge in Sanhedrin v. Jesus of Nazareth. As we know, the trial proceeded as a travesty of justice.

Pontius Pilate

Why did the judge fail so miserably in his duty to pursue the truth? At one point, we heard the defendant say that He had come to bear witness to the truth. Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?”

When Pilate brought the prisoner out, he said, “I find no guilt in him.” But Pilate did not declare Christ innocent.

Pilate knew that he was up against a case that he did not and could not understand. But there was one thing Pilate took for granted: Jesus of Nazareth must be guilty of something.

Pilate had seen too much of the world to be so naïve as to think that there was such a thing as an innocent man.

“This crazy prophet made these priests mad. Maybe he didn’t do everything they say he did. But he must have done something. I won’t be able to get to the bottom of this, so why bother trying? Let them all rot in their self-righteous hypocrisy.”

Whenever Pilate became aware that his prisoner had risen from the dead—whenever the Roman procurator beheld the true innocence of this man—whether it was while Pilate was still on earth or when he went to meet the truth after breathing his last—whenever it was, Pilate surely had to endure the agony of seeing just how wrong he was.

Maybe that agony became Pilate’s everlasting torment. But, on the other hand, maybe seeing the perfectly innocent man, standing in vigor and strength—maybe the sight of the risen Christ kindled a spark of joy somewhere deep in the heart of the cynical, worldly judge.

Maybe even Pontius Pilate, after doing penance for all his sins against the truth—maybe even Pilate could share in the joy of the whole human race, the new hope of the world: Innocence is possible. There is such a thing as the truth.

Not only that: innocence and truth have a strength which conquers deceit, cynicism, cruelty—even death itself.

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