This week I asked my son three times if he had paid for an examination he needs to take next week; I asked him three times. I have called my two younger ones in school to enquire about the examinations they are writing and to find out how they are doing.
I have called my Coach to see how she spent Thanksgiving and to ask if she is okay. I hounded my husband over the passports of our two children which we had sent for renewal and his documents for a trip he is about to embark on. He finally told me that I was paranoid and so he decided to teach me a lesson. I fell for his plan but in the end I saved the day when I helped him realise he might not be able to make his forthcoming trip if he didn’t update his documentation. All these in the life of one woman, not counting being there for my parents, siblings, friends and others in my circle.
How does one get all these done and maintain sanity? Well, to borrow my husband’s expression; by being paranoid! The question is, am I alone in this space? Or is it something women over time are gifted with? Is this great genius or plain evil genius? Or is it a function of fear?
I will leave you to decide the answers to all these questions but the first one. I am happy to say that no matter what we arrive at as an answer, we are not alone. Someone else monitored her loved ones to the point that it would have made a great difference had they listened.
Her story is told in exactly one verse of Bible in Matthew 27:19. She is the wife of Pontius Pilate, the man who delivered Jesus to the Jews to have him crucified. Who is the wife of Pontius Pilate? What did she do for a living? Was she one of the converts in Jesus’ time? What does she believe in? A lot of questions, most of which were not answered in the scripture. What I do know however, is that especially because her name isn’t mentioned, she could have been me and she could be you too.
Looking at that verse of scripture in isolation may never be able to highlight the intrigue and intricacies of Mrs Pontius Pilate counsel to her husband that fateful day. To truly understand the magnitude of what was up that day, one would need to read all of Matthew 27 at least and most of the gospels at best. To summarise the events of that period though, the stage has been set by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ. He had been arrested and a speedy trial by what we might call a kangaroo court had begun.
If you remember, Jesus didn’t commit any sin for which he should be standing trial but he had been charged effectively with an attempt to usurp the throne because they claimed he had said he was the King of the Jews. Even though this was both unfounded and unproven, the people wanted him crucified. On a grander scale though, a divine plot was playing out for Jesus to be crucified for the sins of the world just as God had planned.
Knowing this last bit of information, almost makes it okay that Jesus was before Pontius Pilate, but taking one step back to look at the injustice and the suffering, even though divine, it just wasn’t an act that any man in his right senses should be involved in.
It was in the heat of one of the sessions, after Pontius Pilate couldn’t find any legal reason to rightfully punish Jesus that his wife sends a message to him. The message was quite simple yet extremely loaded:
“…have nothing to do with this just man: for I have suffered many things this day because of him”. What does this mean? What did Mrs Pontius Pilate suffer? Who was meting the suffering? How did she even get involved? The Message version puts it like this:
“…Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him”.
As mother to my children, occasionally, I find myself dreaming about them and sometimes the dreams portray possible danger coming their way. What I do know for sure is that when that happens, from the point that I wake up it takes grace and faith to not freak out and rather pray about the situation. I can also attest to other times when whatever I am thinking about my children or husband or business didn’t come from a dream but from facts I am abreast of and which in my opinion don’t line up with what God has spoken about them and that makes me freak out.
Once in a while, the dream or facts or revelation is about someone else and while it may trouble me it is not as close to home as if it were my immediate family. Seldom, do I hear or witness someone really far away as Jesus seems to be to Mrs Pontius Pilate and yet find myself agonising over their situation. This is why even though her entire story is told in just one sentence, it is still in my opinion very deep and worth reviewing.
What kind of heart does she possess that she would have a dream about a man she doesn’t quite know and be troubled? Or is it that she is a follower of Christ? What did she think warning or counselling her husband will do? Did she honestly hope he would listen to her and follow her counsel? What was she thinking? I am not able to answer but I can tell you what I might have been thinking in her position. I am sure I would have concluded that in a society such as the one we were in where no one probably listens to women, it would be a waste of time to even try. So I would not bother to speak. I would have also concluded that even if my husband was going to listen to me, it still wouldn’t do much good so it was probably better to be quiet. I would have thought…
Regardless of what she thought however, she still made the effort and spoke up. The ramifications of speaking up that day are a lot and I am sure that if you think about it you will realise some yourself.
However, here are a few that I saw.
Speaking up to a Roman government who didn’t want to be overthrown was risky enough but to speak up against what even the Jews were clamouring for made it even more dangerous than it sounds on the pages of this paper. But Mrs Pontius Pilate spoke up regardless. She spoke up that day for a man who if you like had no voice. Let’s do a check on ourselves; question would you speak up when you notice an injustice even if you had a dream about it?
Speaking up that day was also a testament to her relationship with her husband. She had to have earned his respect and listening ear to have ventured to contribute to a matter that was effectively a matter of the state. It is my thinking that the boldness with which she sent this message spoke to the fact that she not only had a cordial and viable relationship with him but that he actually valued her counsel and had listened to her in the past.
She offered counsel that even though the Bible didn’t expressly say, had the potential to save her husband from eternal harm. How did I know? I will borrow from the experience that Jesus had on the cross with the two thieves and how the one who owned up to his wrong doing and declared Jesus just got to be with him in paradise the very same day. If Jesus had the opportunity, it is my opinion that he probably would have extended his love and mercy to Pontius Pilate who acted as honourably as he could considering the situation.
I know someone might wonder what the use was for the counsel if it didn’t save Jesus and I will be quick to say that knowing what we know now which Mrs Pontius didn’t know, the goal was not to save Jesus the goal was to ensure that Pontius Pilate didn’t have ‘divine blood’ on his hands. The question I have had to ask myself is, if I wasn’t sure the outcome will be one that I truly want, will I still be willing to stand up and speak? Will I speak up even when I am aware that whatever I am saying really cannot make much of a difference? Will you?
In the first paragraph of this article I talked about the many reasons that my husband called me paranoid, but if you asked me if I would be less ‘paranoid’ with my family the answer will be a resounding NO. However, for times when I am not and they are not in harm’s way I will probably go to sleep.
Like I mentioned, we never heard of her again, neither did we even know how her counsel impacted upon her husband’s career but the one thing we can and should accord her is she was discerning enough to hear God’s heart on a matter and she was bold enough to stand and speak. My prayer is that when it is our turn, may we be able to stand and speak out in Jesus name.
It is for these and more that Mrs Pontius Pilate, the nameless woman with a bold and discerning heart is our WOB this edition.
Remember, as wives, mothers and sistas there will come a time that it will all be riding on our ability to speak up and out. My prayer is that your voice will not fail you when it matters.