Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Women in the Life of Jesus: The Wife of Pontius Pilate


While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”-Matthew 27:19 (NKJV)

She is often referred to in tradition as Procula or Claudia or Claudia Procula.  She was the wife of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor in Judea during the time of Jesus, and was presumably a Roman.  
She has only one sentence in all of scripture that is devoted to her found in Matthew 27:19.  It may be only one sentence, but it actually can tell us quite a lot.

It seems as though she was a brave woman.  She obviously felt confident enough to send Pilate a message, and at a very tense time.  He was sitting on the judgment seat with a lot of people screaming at him, an odd time to receive a message from your wife.

She could have also felt very safe in her marriage to send him the message at such a time.  Pilate has been described as being ruthless.  He made many ruthless decisions during his time as prefect in Judea, but his wife felt confident and/or safe enough to send him a message.

Or she could have also been motivated by panic.  We could determine that because of her state of mind described in the message.

It was very early in the day, and she had probably just recently woken up from sleep, and had been dreaming.  I have had dreams before and woken up and still carried them with me, to the point that they did effect my morning. But she was very shaken up, enough to send her husband a message.

In the message, she says she has "suffered many things today in a dream because of Him."  I used to think, why would God give her a dream to make her suffer?  That seems very out of character for God.  But recently after reading this passage a few times, it occurred to me that she could have quite possibly had a dream about what was actually going to happen to Jesus, both physically and spiritually.

Physically, He would suffer a lot. He would be beaten,  and have a crown of thorns forced into His head.  Jesus would also be flogged at the order of Pilate. (See John 19:1)  Peter tells us later on in the epistles what this flogging was for.  

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.-1 Peter 2:24

He would also be crucified by being nailed to a cross.  But while He was there, there were things happening spiritually that you couldn’t see with the physical eye.  He would spiritually be taking on sin for all mankind. In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist says about Him,

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!-John 1:29

His body would be beaten.  His blood would be shed. I believe now that is why Pilate's wife suffered in a dream because of Him.
Because she was Roman, the fact that He was the Son of God was probably outside of her belief system.  I don’t believe she was given the dream to stop the crucifixion of Jesus, because that was part of His purpose.  But in sending the message to Pilate she was another testifying about Jesus, even though she did not know.

She was like the high priest in John 11, who unknowingly prophesied about Jesus’ death.

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. -John 11:49-52 (NKJV)

One last thought.  She was a Roman.  Surely she had seen beatings and many crucifixions before.  What made Jesus’ so different?  I believe it hinges on one word. When she sends the message, she calls Jesus a "just” man.  Different translations use the words “righteous” or  “innocent.”  That word in the Greek is "dikaios."  It occurs 80 times in the New Testament, and is found in Galatians 3:11 where it says, "The just shall live by faith."  Jesus was innocent.  And His death would make way for those who believe to be just too.  He was the first of many.

To read more posts in this series, go here to Women in the Life of Jesus. 

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