WHY DID PILATE – an experienced Roman judge – let himself get bullied into executing Jesus when he knew Jesus had done nothing more than upset the narrow-minded sensibilities of a few Jewish control freaks?
The answer – which is an educated guess – is this week’s Friday Fun Fact. Though talking about the Crucifixion under the tag of a Fun Fact seems like a stretch. But it is fun to know the history.
Here’s the answer to the question:
Pilate got his nose out of joint with Rome. His relationship with his bosses was starting to smell a little armpittish.
Two events skunked him up a good one.
He killed a bunch of Jews.
Just a few years earlier, in about A.D. 28, he tipped over the Jews by taking money from the temple treasury to pay for an aqueduct he built to bring water into the upper part of Jerusalem. Jews protested.
A Jewish writer from the first century, Josephus, said Pilate crushed the protest by killing the protesters. He ordered his soldiers to dress in street clothes, mingle and among the protesters, and then when the order was given they killed “rioters and bystanders alike, killing a great number.”
The guy who recommended Pilate for his job, Sejanus, got executed after an attempted coup.
Emperor Tiberius’s number one man was Sejanus, an emperor wannabe. Tiberius executed him in A.D. 31 for attempting a hostile takeover of the Empire.
Tiberius also executed many of Sejanus’ associates, though Pilate way out in the boonies of the Roman frontier kept his job for a few more years.
As it turns out, history proved that Pilate had good reason to worry about upsetting the locals. Several years later he ordered his soldiers to attack an unarmed crowd of Samaritans that had gathered to listen to a prophet. There was blood. Not good.
Pilate’s boss, Vitellius, governor of the entire region, sent him to Rome in A.D. 36 to answer charges levied against him by Jews and Samaritans.
After that, Pilate flew off the radar.