THE DREAM OF PILATE'S WIFE
Matthew 27: 15-26
Please read the above passage before you read this message. Your attention is directed to that part of this Bible passage which tells about the dream of Pilate's wife. Verse 19 says, 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." Pilate was the Roman Judge who presided at the trial of Jesus. Throughout his term in office he had grossly misbehaved himself. Gain was his object, and pride ruled his heart. I understand at the very time Jesus was standing before Him a complaint by the people was on the way to Tiberius the Emperor, and he feared lest he should be called to account for his oppressions., extortions, and murders. He knew that Jesus was innocent and would have spared Him, if he could have done so without endangering himself. However, his cowardly fears led him on to the shedding of innocent blood.
At the very moment he was minded to release Jesus or Barabbas, there came from the hand of God a warning. That warning would forever make it clear that if he condemned Jesus, it would be done voluntarily by his own guilty hands. A warning to Pilate came from his own wife concerning her morning's dream, warning him not to touch that just Person. Said she, "I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him." There are times in the lives of men and women when, though they have been wrong, they have come to pause and deliberate as to their way. In the goodness of God, Pilate was given an opportuity to mend his ways, correct his life, and save his soul. My first observation is that in sending this dream to Pilate's wife, God caused this woman to dream for the benefit of her husband, and it is evident that God was giving Pilate a chance to be saved. God was concerned about this man. . The Lord knew he was in a precarious position that would immortalize his name for good or evil to the end of the world. The concern and compassion of God for this Roman judge is remarkable because he was such a cruel and oppressive ruler. Even though he was a wicked man, God did not want to mistreat him . God was gracious and compassionate even to a man like this. If God wanted this man to have a chance, He wants everybody to have a chance. The Bible says, "The Lord is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). We would all agree that Pilate was in a very unusual and dangerous situation. The man was ignorant of the true identity of Christ, and life had thrust him into an unexpected role, which has immortalized his name forever. To stand in judgment on Christ, a divine Being of whom he was ignorant, was a terrible lot to befall any man. Considering the envy and hatred of the Jewish leaders, it would have been a treacherous situation for even a good man.
Therefore, God stepped into the picture and balanced the scales of justice in favor of Pilate by causing his wife to have a special dream. This was no ordinary dream, for the hand of God was at work that night when his wife went to sleep. As God had done so often in olden times, He sent a crucial message by means of this dream. She must dream just so and no way else, and that dream must be of such and such an order and none other. So complete is God's control over our lives that, if He wills even our dreams are subject to His will. Now that the New Testament revelation is complete and God has revealed all that He shall ever reveal to the human race, miracles have ceased. Miracles were used to authenticate and prove the revelations which God made to mankind. The miracles which are recorded in the Bible have fully established the Bible as a book sent from God and have fully authenticated the Christian religion. For this reason, God no longer reveals Himself to man by dreams, visions etc. You should never interpret any dream you have today as containing a message from God. God speaks to you today through the Bible, and all you need is to know is in the Bible.
However, the dream of Pilate's wife was miraculous and specially induced by God. Some commentators trace her dream to the devil who thus hoped to prevent the death of Jesus and so prevent our redemption . I do not agree with that notion. God sent this dream to warn Pilate, so that his sentence may be his own act and deed, , and that warning was given him through his wife's dream. It is instructive that the dream caused her to have great mental sufferings. Her comment to her husband on the dream was, "I have suffered many things in a dream concerning Him." We do not know what visions passed before her mind's eye, but it was one which caused her much anxiety. It is certain she dreamed about Jesus, and it frightened her. Whatever it was, she suffered repeated and painful emotions in the dream. The terror of the night was upon her, and it threatened to become a terror to her for all her days, and she therefore hastened to stay her husband's hands. After having this dream, she knew that Jesus was innocent, and her husband was in danger of making an awful mistake. This was God's way of warning this man of the great danger he was in and of compensating for the ignorance this pagan ruler had of Jesus. He must be given an opportunity to recover himself from irretrievable shame and ruin. After this warning from God, if he condemns Christ, he will do it deliberately of his own free will.
Next, let us address ourselves to the alarming message he received from his wife. She said, "Have nothing to do with this just person.." Most dreams we quite forget. A few we mention as remarkable, and only now and then one so impresses us that we remember it for years. I doubt if anyone ever had a dream which made him send a message to a judge on the bench. Though the judge were your own husband, you would be very hard pressed before you would worry him with your dreams while he was occupied with important public business. But so deep was the impression upon this Roman lady's mind that she does not wait until her husband comes home, but sends it to him at once. Her advice is urgent, "Have nothing to do with this just man." She must warn him now before he did anything to Jesus, worst of all sentence Him to death. She did not say, "Scourge Him and let him go." But her word was, "Have nothing to do with him." What she meant was that he shouldn't do Him any injury, not even to say an unkind word to him. Her message amounted to he fact that he should be delivered from his enemies. If he must die, let it be by some other hand than yours. Let my suffering about this just man be a warning to you; for my sake let Him alone. Before I go on, I must pause and make a special remark about Pilate's wife. During this long trial before Roman rulers and judges, no one pleaded for Him but a woman, the wife of Pilate. To her credit it may be said that she sent word to the judge, her husband, that Jesus was innocent. Tradition says she later became a Christian, but we cannot depend on the trustworthiness of traditions. We do not know that she became a Christian, but I hope she did.
Furthermore, two things happened that clearly showed the providence of God at work. Awaking from her dream, she sent the message at the best possible time to have influenced his judgment. He had just sat down on the judgment seat to make a pronouncement of guilty or innocent, when the message came. He had not yet made up his mind what to do; he was still deliberating. He wanted to let Jesus go free and yet keep out of trouble with the Jews. Just at that moment, you see, when he had sat down on the judgment seat, the warning came to him. When here was a little lull and he was anxious to acquit the prisoner, at that instant the message came from God: "Have nothing to do with that just man." The warning came just in he nick of time, or we might say in the nick of providence. God was indeed trying to help this man. I think we are safe in saying it was providential that God's warning, through his wife, came at the very moment he was about to render the verdict on Jesus. There can be no doubt that Pilate's superstitious fear was excited by this mysterious dream. He was in the valley of decision and was about to make a decision that would tell on all of his tomorrows, a decision that would follow him through death and all the way to the judgment seat of Christ. As Jesus had to answer at the bar of Pilate, so Pilate must one day answer at the bar of Christ. This amazing spectacle of Jesus standing before Pilate is all the more dramatic when you contemplate that there is to be a reversal of this scene, when Pilate must stand before Jesus as the Judge of all mankind. These two must meet again in a court of judgment.
The providence of God is also seen in the fact that God sent the warning to him through his wife. If Pilate had dreamed this dream himself, in all probability it would not have been as effective upon him as when his wife dreamed it. To send a warning by her was to reach Pilate's conscience through his affections. If a man‘s wife is distressed it would be sure to weigh heavily with him, for he would not want her to be troubled.. God used probably the only person on earth who might be able to influence him. We should learn a lesson from this. God sent to this man the right person, probably the one and only person who could reach him. Sadly, all this providential help was not able to overcome counteracting influences. Human speaking, his wife was the best means of reaching Plate, but even her warning was in vain. Pilate was afraid of losing his governorship, and the Jews would be angry if he did not obey their cruel bidding. They might complain to the Roman Emperor, and he would lose his lucrative position. Such things as these are holding some people captives to sin at this very moment. One cannot afford to become a Christian and be true and right, for it would cost too much. Even though people know the will of God and know what is true and right, they still renounce Christ by putting Him off and abiding in ways of sin for the sake of gain or convenience Others are afraid to become a Christian because it would involve the loss of a friend's goodwill or the loss of a boy friend or girl friend. They consider it too much to lose. We must count the cost when we decide to become a Christian, and it is not cheap. Some would have to give up some sinful habit from which they derive much pleasure, and that they are not willing to do. Jesus had such decisions in mind when he said, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul." Pilate was afraid of the Jewish mobs and would not fight for the right, and multitudes are in danger today of missing heaven because they have not the courage to fight their way to heaven.Finally, we learn from this passage that God has concern and compassion for all people. If this man must have a fair chance to save his soul, we must all have a chance. Pilate deliberately and of his own free will condemned the just Son of God to die. He did this after being informed that Jesus was a King and claimed to be the Son of God, and knowing from his own examination and from his wife that Jesus was a "just person."
He rejected Christ with his eyes wide open, and that is an awful way of sinning. The Bible says that people who reject Christ today crucify Him afresh and put Him to an open shame(Hebrews 6:6). All who reject Christ today must do so with their eyes open and must do it deliberately of their own free will. Titus 2:11 says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Every person shall receive his warning. God shall not mistreat any person. God does not give miraculous warnings today, but works through the preaching of the gospel. Jesus gave this command to His disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned"(Mark 16:16,17). Not one creature is to be left out; they must all be warned and all will be warned. God's providence still works through concerned husbands, wives, children and friends. Only one in a family may be a Christian, but God uses that one to be a missionary to the rest of the family. When a loved one talks to us about Christ, he or she speaks with something better than the tongues of men and angels, for love and affection is used. Affection has more might than eloquence. How often has a tender and loving woman exercised great power over a course, rough man. God knows this and often gives His warnings by this influential agency. When Christians teach the gospel by word and example, they are not alone; all providence is behind them. When we preach Christ and live Him out in our lives, God is working for us as well as by us. The day of miraculous dreams has ended; you can never expect to be warned by supernatural means as was Pilate. The lesson for us who know and serve Christ is that we must never keep back a word or a warning which may convert someone from the error of his way. Every accountable prson must answer this question for himself, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" May the example of Pilate help us to make a wise decision.