Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Sinner or Saint

or both.

John 19:12–16

From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away.

So, who’s more pathetic? Pilate or the chief priests?

I know, trick question. They’re all so pathetic there’s no way to compare them. The chief priests pledging fealty to Caesar is unimaginably cowardly—if not downright blasphemous. Yet doing that in the service of condemning an innocent man, especially the messiah, makes it “special.”

Then there’s Pilate caving to these clowns. He’d just finished explaining to Jesus how he’s so powerful. Plus, he sought to release Him.

That lasts about two minutes.


History has not been kind to Pilate. This incident is indicative of Pilate’s inability to command respect and allegiance. A strong prefect could have easily silenced the rabble by threatening to charge them. He had the soldiers, but he didn’t have the will.

Pilate will go on to have more trouble keeping his subjects in line. He only lasts about another seven years after crucifying Jesus. His end comes, from his harsh treatment of Samaritans. In a perfect irony, it was the charge of executing people without a trial that did him in.

Pilate’s problem isn’t a lack of spine; it’s a lack of compass. He doesn’t have the courage of his convictions because he doesn’t have convictions. He can be pushed around, so no one respects him.

People know they can manipulate him. That’s what happens in today’s passage. That leads to his using too much force on occasion, and that’s what ultimately brings him down.

Curiously, there are many Christian traditions that think Pilate became a believer. Some even consider him a saint.

Anything’s possible.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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