Matthew 27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
Who?, a series of persons, is a question that gives us understanding when answered. Pilot is a person to be noticed and learned from in our text. As we look at the fifty-four times that Pilate is mentioned in the New Testament, we can learn some vital lessons. I’ll list statements that help us know Pilate.
Pilate was the Roman governor appointed over Israel by Caesar (Matthew 27:2). Jesus points out that Pilate’s authority came from God (John 19:10-11). The Apostle Paul instructs us that God-given authority is to be used to protect people from the wrong-doer (Romans 13:1-5). Pilate found no charge against Jesus (Luke 23:4, 14, 22) and tried to wash his hands of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:24) because he didn’t want to be responsible for Jesus’ death. Pilate gave into the crowd because he saw a riot might occur and because the Jews were accusing him of opposing Caesar, the one who appointed him and the one who could remove him (Matthew 27:24; John 19:12-13). Pilate showed his authority when Joseph of Arimathea had to come to him to have Jesus’ body released to him for burial (Matthew 27:58).
What can we learn from Pilot? The threat of riot and what he would have to do to quell the riot made using his authority to protect from the wrong-doer personally distasteful. He decided to authorize an injustice rather than rightly using his God-given authority. He feared being accused of opposing Caesar, his boss, and again chose to rule unjustly for selfish motives. Selfishness will cause us to act unjustly and not fulfill our God-given authority justly. When we have such people ruling over us, people who forget that God, not man, gave them their authority, we will have unjust decisions occur. When we are more concerned about our own comfort and benefits, we will not make just decisions in our area of authority as a parent, boss, political office holder, policeman, teacher, doctor, etc. People in authority cannot wash their hands of their sinful decisions (John 19:11).
We need to learn what not to do from Pilate. We are not to compromise our use of authority for selfish reasons. We are not to forget that God has given us the authority we wield and use it unjustly. We cannot blame our decisions on another and wash our hands of sinful decisions. We will still be responsible before the Lord. We are to do the opposite of Pilate and make just use of our authority as God, our Provider, Protector, and Judge desires.