Summary: Message about how Pilate handled his opportunity with Jesus.

What We Can Learn from Pilate

Matthew 27:11-26

October 4, 2009

Me: One of my favorite phrases in life is, “Been there, done that.” My favorite variation of that is, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

I’m not entirely sure what the last part means, but that’s okay – it sounds cool.

One of the things I have found myself doing more and more as I move through life is listening to people who have experience what I’m about to do in a given situation.

I try to look for people who can say, “Been there, done that.” Then I can say, “So how’d that go with you? What can you tell me about it?”

Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not so good.

In either case, I can learn from that and maybe avoid some trouble.

Some of us WISH others would come to us first with things like, "I’m thinking of doing drugs - whaddya think?" Been there, done that. Don’t be stupid, dude.

We: Most of us would like to have a heads-up about potential trouble, right?

We’d like to avoid potholes when possible, because no one wants more hassle than they already have.

And most of us shake our heads at those who refuse to listen to our warnings borne from our experiences.

So I think most of us can learn something from that good ol’ boy, Pontius Pilate.


In our passage today, we find Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, being faced with a dilemma in the form of the Jewish leaders bringing them a man they believe should be put to death.

And how he handles the situation can give us some things that, if we’ll put them into our own lives, will save us a looooot of hurt and hassles.

The setting is that after a secret trial through the night, Jesus has been sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin, which is the Jewish ruling council.

The problem is that they didn’t have the authority to put someone to death, especially over religious matters that the Romans didn’t really care about.

So they came up with a plan to have Jesus accused of treason against Caesar, so the Romans could put Him to death.

Matthew 27:11-26 (p. 705) –

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, "Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 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."

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor.

"Barabbas," they answered.

22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.

They all answered, "Crucify him!"

23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man’s blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

25 All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

1. Desperate people make desperate choices.

Pilate was desperate to keep the peace, and the religious leaders were desperate to get rid of Jesus.

The gospel of John gets into a lot of detail of what went on during Jesus’ trial before Pilate.

And there we find that Pilate went from frustration to fear pretty quickly, and that became the basis for his decision-making.

And that’s usually not the best way to be making critical decisions.

This might have been behind the thinking that brought Barabbas to be offered.

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