Did you know that Pontius Pilate had a wife?
Up until recently, I didn’t know he did. But he did, and she is mentioned very briefly.
Where she is mentioned is of great significance, however. She is present during a trial of sorts at the feast of the governor held by Pontius Pilate, where he put the choice before the people who gathered of freeing either Barabbas, a hardened criminal, or Jesus Christ, the Son of Man without sin (Matthew 27:15-26).
But before their verdict came forth via shouts from that crowd, we meet her. We don’t know what she looks like, as we are not given a physical description. We don’t even know her name. But in one verse – Matthew 27:19 – she is mentioned:
While he [Pilate] 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.”
This woman is important, not just for our brief study today, but in Scripture itself, because the fact of the matter is that no person in God’s Word is insignificant. And what she says is just as important, if not more so.
So how can we learn from someone not only unnamed, but only known by one verse in God’s Word?
You are never too insignificant to be used by God
Have you ever felt small? Have you ever felt as though your presence ultimately didn’t matter, that you were just a face in the crowd? I’ve certainly felt that way before.
God places us in certain situations and puts us in certain positions for a reason. Sometimes, we have no clue why we’re in those situations; other times, we can take a guess based on how God has helped in situations prior. But the truth of the matter is that God is with us no matter what, so we have no reason to be afraid. We can say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Also, it’s evident in Scripture that God does place people in certain situations or positions to enact His Will (Esther 4:14).
So, it’s safe to say that Pilate’s wife was at that public trial for a reason. What that exactly is, we may not know until we get to Heaven, but we do know that she is there because of God.
Listen to God
Let’s briefly depart from Pilate’s wife and visit Elijah for a moment. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had to face great evil in the form of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, and his anger and woe at the injustice dealt to his fellow prophets led him to spend forty days and nights in a cave, weary with anguish, but seen to by angels. God was with Him in the midst of the darkness, even though Elijah didn’t acknowledge it in the Scriptures. Then, an angel urges him to speak with the Lord on a mountain in verse 11. When the Lord passed by that mountain, He wasn’t in the great wind, tumultuous earthquake, or the raging fire (1 Kings 19:11-12). Instead, He was present in the still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12-13). It was this voice that Elijah conversed with, and it was the still, small voice of God Himself that was mighty enough to set Elijah back on course.
God’s voice, though it may seem still and small in comparison to the clamor of the world around us, is mighty, and it can urge us when we need to stay on or return to our path, and His voice can also lead us to help others. Though it’s not mentioned in Matthew 27:19 explicitly, it’s entirely possible that this was the case with Pilate’s wife. The dream she had was “because of Him,” after all.
Your voice DOES matter
The voice of Pilate’s wife – as well as ours – did matter, even though she only has one recorded sentence in the Bible. How does it matter, though?
First, it matters because it’s there. God’s Word is inspired, and as such, He hand-picked each letter, word, and sentence for each hand-picked author to inscribe for us to read today (2 Timothy 3:16). And because God Himself is the Word (John 1:1-5), nothing in the Word is disposable text. So, consequently, we can learn anything from any aspect of the Bible, whether it’s the history of a certain person or people or the account of how this world was made to everything else in between. The statement of Pilate’s wife fits in that third category.
Second, it matters because of what she says. Pilate’s wife doesn’t just refer to Jesus as a “man.” She refers to Him as a “just Man.” She knows of Him because of her dream, which she states very plainly to her husband. What attributes and facts were in that dream are not mentioned, but it’s clear that the dream stirred her to the point that she needed to tell her husband, even in the midst of such a public spectacle as the trial.
If we know the story of Jesus and His life on this earth, we know what happens next: the people cry for the criminal Barabbas to be set free, and for the Lord Jesus Christ to be crucified. Pilate washes his hands of “this just Person” before the people, and tells them to “see to it” (Matthew 27:24). Though his admission is grim, it’s in agreement with his wife, who called Him a “just Man” a few verses earlier (Matthew 27:19). But after the mocking, scoffing, torture, and agony that came with the cross, we received salvation, and our Savior rose again after three days.
All things considered, we know that Pilate’s wife acknowledged Jesus as being just. And the fact of the matter is that all will eventually acknowledge and praise Jesus as the most High (Luke 19:40). As such, Pilate’s wife’s admission in Scripture is proof to us today that we should have no fear of being insignificant, listen to God, and speak out for what we believe in. We never know how it can help someone.
By Savannah Cottrell