The Character of Pilate
Luke 23:24
And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

It is true that Pilate's opinion concerning Jesus of Nazareth was very different indeed from that of his accusers; but he little imagined chat it would be to that poor suffering Prisoner that he would owe such immortality as he is to enjoy. Yet so it is; it is only because we are disciples of Jesus Christ that we care to ask who and what was Pilate. He is nothing but the gold upon the altar. In considering the elements of his character, we note -

I. THAT HE WAS POSSESSED OF ENERGY AND ENTERPRISE. He would hardly have reached the station he occupied, or held it as long as he did, if he had not had these two qualities in his character.

II. THAT HE WAS NOT DEVOID OF SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. It is clear that he was much impressed by all that he saw of Jesus. The calmness, patience, and nobility of our Lord called forth from Pilate a sincere respect. There was genuine admiration in his heart as he led forth the Divine Sufferer and exclaimed, "Behold the Man!" He was affected, and even awed, by the moral greatness he was witnessing, he may also have been moved to pity.

III. THAT HIS WORLDLINESS HAD WORN OUT HIS FAITH. He had probably had his visions, in earlier days, of the sacredness and supremacy of truth; he had indulged his idea of what was morally good and sound, more to be desired than riches, more to be pursued than honor or authority. But a life of worldliness bad done for him what it will do for any of its votaries - it had eaten away his early faith; it had caused his fairest views and noblest purposes to melt and to disappear; it had left his spirit "naked to his enemies," without any assured belief in any one or in anything. "To bear witness to the truth." "What's truth?" asks the poor sceptic, whose soul was empty of all sustaining trust, of all ennobling hope.

IV. THAT HE HAD COME TO SUBORDINATE RIGHTEOUSNESS TO POLICY. That Prisoner on his hands was innocent: of that he was well assured. He would not condemn him to a cruel death unless he was obliged to do so. But he must not push his preference for righteousness too far. He must not seriously endanger his own position; he must not put a handle into the power of his enemies. No; rather than that, this pure and holy One must be scourged, must even die the death. As the trial proceeds, it appears that he is exciting a very strong hostility to himself. Let the poor Man go, then, to his doom; one more act of injustice, however regrettable in itself, will not make much difference. "And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required."


1. Outward circumstances prove very little. It is the judge whom we pity now; it is the bound and buffeted, the maltreated and maligned Prisoner whom we now honor and emulate.

2. Real strength is in righteousness and in love. Unrighteousness and selfishness, in the person of Pilate, resorted to shifts and expedients, and vacillated again and again between obligation and self-interest. Flawless integrity and abounding love for man, in the person of Jesus Christ, wavered not for an instant, but pursued its holy and gracious purpose through pain and shame. Policy prevails for a very little while; it goes back to its palace, but its end is exile and suicide. Poverty and love go through the deep darkness of earth to the unshadowed glory of the skies. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

WEB: Pilate decreed that what they asked for should be done.

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