DEVOTION FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2017
While excavating a stairway leading to an ancient theatre in the ruins of Caesarea, archaeologists discovered a small stone bearing four lines of text. The inscription refers to the life of Pontius Pilate. The dedication stone was likely originally placed during the time of Jesus’ ministry. The Pilate Stone is preserved in the Israel Museum.
Pontius Pilate is a central figure in today’s reading, which records the details of Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus was handed over to Pilate for sentencing. The punishment was cruel—a brutal flogging, a crown of thorns piercing
His head, and mocking and beatings administered by the soldiers. But in addition to this display of hatred and violence against an innocent man, the text reveals the inner struggle of Pilate himself when he came face to face with the “king of the Jews” (v. 3). At first, Pilate was unwilling to sentence Jesus to death: “I find no basis for a charge against him” (v. 4). Jesus’ accusers were unhappy with this decision and responded with cries of “Crucify! Crucify!” (v. 6).
Why was this earthly ruler so reluctant to condemn Jesus? To whom would Pilate listen? Phrased another way, who caused him greater fear? Though his conscience urged him to let Jesus go, Pilate’s fear of the mob prevailed, and he handed Jesus over to be crucified (v. 16).
The sign reading, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS” was placed above Christ’s head on the cross (v. 19). Jesus refused to deny who He was, even up until the very last moment with the crowds turning against Him. Pilate’s sign, written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, bore witness to all that the One who hung upon the cross was no ordinary criminal.
APPLY THE WORD
We saw the example of Peter who reacted out of anger and fear, and we see the example of Pilate, whose fear of the mob led him to condemn an innocent man to death. We need to abide in Christ in order to act in faith and not fear. Commit your challenges to the Lord in prayer, asking for His strength to make the right choices.
Today in the Word is a production of Moody Global Ministries