Pntius Pilate was the Roman governor who condemned Jesus to the crucifixion. Pilate ruled Judea from 26 to 36 AD, throughout the ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist.
Pilate judges Jesus
Only the Roman governor had the right to sentence a person to death , so the Jews took Jesus to Pilate ( John 18:31 ). They made false accusations against Jesus, saying that he was inciting the people to rebel against the empire.
Pilate was impressed that Jesus did not respond to the accusations ( Matthew 27: 13-14 ). He investigated the case and found no reason to condemn it. Convinced that Jesus was innocent, Pilate tried to avoid responsibility by sending Jesus to Herod, the governor of Galilee ( Luke 23: 5-7 ). But Herod found no reason to condemn him and sent Jesus back to Pilate.
Pilate knew that religious leaders had turned Jesus over out of envy. During Easter it was customary to release a prisoner and Pilate tried to use the occasion to release Jesus ( Mark 15: 9-11 ). But the crowd screamed for Jesus’ death and called for the release of a bandit named Barabbas. Pilate was concerned because his wife had a dream about Jesus and he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God ( Matthew 27:19 ).
See the whole story of Jesus’ judgment here.
The crowd was starting an uproar and the situation could get violent. Pilate flogged Jesus and made one last appeal, which failed. Then he washed his hands, denying his guilt, and handed Jesus over to be crucified ( Matthew 27: 24-26 ).
Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent but he gave in to pressure from the people. He denied his guilt but, in fact, only he had the authority to order the death penalty and he had the power to protect Jesus. Without his permission, Jesus would not have died.
Pilate did not believe in the importance of the truth ( John 18:38 ). It was Pilate who had a sign placed on Jesus’ cross, saying “Jesus Nazarene, the King of the Jews”. To justify his decision, Pilate made Jesus look like a rebel trying to lead a political revolution! He knew it was a lie but decided to hide the truth.
See also: who killed Jesus?
What else do we know about Pontius Pilate?
At the time of Jesus, the land of Israel was under Roman control. Roman territory was divided into provinces and Pontius Pilate was sent to be governor of the province of Judea (Israel). His origins and his life are not known before he was governor of Judea.
Pontius Pilate was not popular with Jews. They did not like to be ruled by the Romans and some historians of the time wrote that Pilate was cruel and violent ( Luke 13: 1 ). But Pilate managed to stay in power for 10 years, which was longer than usual in Judea.
In AD 36, Pilate violently repressed a demonstration by Samaritans. The Samaritans complained to Pilate’s superior, who dismissed him and sent him to Rome to report to the emperor. It is not known what happened to Pilate after that.