Pontius Pilate had to make sure. As the Roman procurator, or governor, that was his job before he rendered judgment.
He heard the accusations brought against the man from Nazareth. Jesus heard the charges against him, yet remained silent, causing Pilate to marvel. He was used to hearing all manner of defenses, excuses, and justification for actions, criminal or not.
The more Pilate heard, the more he was sure of the innocence of Jesus. Three times he stated that he found no fault in him. Yet the crowd cried for his execution.
Pilate perhaps thought punishing Jesus would be enough. His soldiers whipped Jesus, put a crown of thorns on his head and a purple robe on him, mocking him as king.
Then, following a custom at the time, he offered to release a prisoner. A notorious man named Barabbas was brought forth. He was a robber imprisoned for murder and rebellion. Surely the choice would be obvious of which prisoner to release or condemn. The crowd chose freedom for Barabbas.
Pilate realized his predicament and “washed his hands” of the incident, symbolizing his innocence. The soldiers led Jesus away to be crucified.
Finally, done with the judicial process, I imagine Pilate left the judgment hall to see his wife. She had sent him a note about a frightening dream she had of Jesus. She wanted Pilate to having nothing to do with the judgment.
But Pilate heard two more requests concerning Jesus.
First, two respectable men from the area requested the body of Jesus. Joseph and Nicodemus asked permission to bury the body, which Pilate readily granted. They placed him in a garden tomb.
Secondly, the following day, the leaders who condemned Christ wanted to make sure that the tomb was secure. They remembered his words about rising again. They requested that the tomb “be made sure until the third day.” Pilate answered them, “Make it as sure as you can.” Matthew 27:66 says, “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
A government order, a sealed stone, and a watch guard could not prevent it. Death could not hold him. The tomb was empty on the third day. Angels said, “He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.”
The disciples ran to spread the word and others ran to peer in the empty tomb. They were afraid and amazed. The disciples saw Jesus for forty days after the resurrection. These appearances to over five hundred people made sure of his resurrection.
Pilate’s advice needs to be followed today concerning believing the Scriptures and experiencing salvation. “Make it as sure as you can.”
Luke wrote of “those things most surely believed among us.” That is the power of the resurrection. We can believe and make sure.
Mitch Glover is pastor of the Sterling United Pentecostal Church located on Swanson River Road and Entrada. Sunday services include Bible classes for all ages at 10:00 a.m. and worship at 11:00 a.m. Thursday Bible study is at 7:00 p.m.