Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I was reading this archaeology book on Jesus Christ and First Century Jerusalem/Galilee. It also discuss the various actual history interrelated in the Gospel narratives. There are interesting political and historical points elaborating characters in the stories. Of particular interest to me yesterday upon my usual Friday/Fasting for the Crucifixion of Christ meditations were the sections on Pontius Pilate.
He really was quite an integral figure in his contemporary time in Jerusalem and was very actively involved in the politics and religion of the region. What was interesting to me upon meditation was the decision Pontius Pilate had to make.
Clearly from the Gospels, particularly John's narrative, Pontius Pilate did not want to execute Jesus Christ. Three specific times he tried to evade the sentence and exonerate Jesus Christ, aside from all his stalling and backroom dealings. He also specifically washed his hands of the decision, which is reflected still in Christianity when the priest washes his hands of our sins before the Fraction prayer at the Divine Liturgy.
In the Ethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Pontius Pilate is recognized as a Saint. What I was thinking about yesterday was to imagine the stress, the agony, the fear, the anger, about his having to have made that decision to appease the politics of the situation. Pilate was ever the politician, but this was a serious conflict for him internally. What if Pilate himself recognized the Divinity of Christ in the glint of Jesus' eyes? What if Pilate became conscious of his own responsibility, how would we feel as Christians if were were put in his place? We know that Jesus Christ had to be crucified, but would any of us be able to handle that responsibility? Look at Judas Iscariot, he obviously did not cope well with his regrets. This is the Valley of Decision we all face, to follow the path of faith in God and revelation and the Will of God, or to do our own wills, our own decisions. Every decision we make carries this grave responsibility, that we go in accord with God. God intended Jesus Christ to die on the Cross, and He intended Pilate to carry out the sentence, but did Pilate himself really want to do it? That is partly why I feel the Fathers of the Tewahedo tradition canonized Pontius Pilate as a Saint, because not only did Pilate fulfill the plans of God, but he did it well and with the dignity and sureness of his decisions that Adam himself neglected when he hid from God in that Garden. Pilate stood before God himself, acknowledged the inevitability of the Will of God (something we humans always have a hard time accepting be it trivial and mundane or life altering and significant) in our lives, saluted God's own decision and consigned to it with an uplifted head. I don't think I could honestly do the same, I would probably fall into weeping like Peter or even to the ultimate despair of Judas, but I'm quite sure I could not carry on as Pilate did.
"Salutations to Saint Pontius Pilate who washed His hands of Jesus' blood."
His Saint's day is honored on the Ethiopian month of Senne 25 (July 1-3)..http://www.stmichaeleoc.org/Synaxarium/Senne_25.htm