There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”Proverbs 14:12
As we have been focusing on the closing scenes of Jesus’ life through our recommended reading plan, I continue to be greatly blessed. Ellen White recommended focusing on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, suggesting to “Let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones” (Desire of Ages, pg. 84).
Pilate had a golden opportunity when Jesus was brought before him. He should’ve listened to his wife. Here’s what happened:
In answer to Christ’s prayer, the wife of Pilate had been visited by an angel from heaven, and in a dream she had beheld the Saviour and conversed with Him. Pilate’s wife was not a Jew, but as she looked upon Jesus in her dream, she had no doubt of His character or mission. She knew Him to be the Prince of God. She saw Him on trial in the judgment hall. She saw the hands tightly bound as the hands of a criminal. She saw Herod and his soldiers doing their dreadful work. She heard the priests and rulers, filled with envy and malice, madly accusing. She heard the words, ‘We have a law, and by our law He ought to die.’ She saw Pilate give Jesus to the scourging, after he had declared, ‘I find no fault in Him.’ She heard the condemnation pronounced by Pilate, and saw him give Christ up to His murderers. She saw the cross uplifted on Calvary. She saw the earth wrapped in darkness, and heard the mysterious cry, ‘It is finished.’ Still another scene met her gaze. She saw Christ seated upon the great white cloud, while the earth reeled in space, and His murderers fled from the presence of His glory. With a cry of horror she awoke, and at once wrote to Pilate words of warning”Desire of Ages, pg. 732
Amazing, isn’t it? God spoke to Pilate’s wife in a dream—a very vivid and clear dream, or perhaps more like a nightmare as she saw her husband declare Jesus innocent yet still condemn him. The Bible says, “While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him’” (Matthew 26:19).
He should’ve listened to his wife. But he didn’t. Instead, he caved to the pressure.
Pilate longed to deliver Jesus. But he saw that he could not do this, and yet retain his own position and honor. Rather than lose his worldly power, he chose to sacrifice an innocent life. How many, to escape loss or suffering, in like manner sacrifice principle. Conscience and duty point one way, and self-interest points another…. Rather than risk losing his position, he delivered Jesus up to be crucified. But in spite of his precautions, the very thing he dreaded afterward came upon him. His honors were stripped from him, he was cast down from his high office, and, stung by remorse and wounded pride, not long after the crucifixion he ended his own life. So all who compromise with sin will gain only sorrow and ruin. ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ Proverbs 14:12.”Desire of Ages, pg. 738
As I contemplate Pilate’s story, I see several points worth remembering:
- God used dreams then; He uses dreams still. Perhaps even now, during this COVID-19 global crisis, God wants to and already is using dreams to communicate vital messages with men and women. Let’s remember that dreams are still one way God can miraculously get people’s attention. Pilate’s wife was given that dream in answer to Jesus’ prayer. Maybe we should pray for God to give dreams to specific people or people groups—in order to get their attention, so that they will choose Him before it’s too late.
- Pilate valued his position, title, authority, and the favor of people over the favor of God. These are still very real temptations in our world today. Paul acknowledged this too, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Let’s remember that God’s approval is what’s important. Let’s be people of integrity, doing what is right because it is right, and not cave to temptation and worldly pressure.
- Compromising with sin is a dead end. Sin still leads to death. Pilate’s suicide is a tragic ending that didn’t have to end that way. He should’ve listened to his wife—because her message was really a message from God, “A message from God warned him from the deed he was about to commit” (Desire of Ages, pg. 732). God can still give us messages through our wife or husband, our roommate, deans, teachers, administrators, and church leaders. Let’s listen to hear God speaking to us, however He so chooses, including through His Holy Word, claiming the promise of Isaiah 30:21 that we will “hear a voice behind [us], saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”