Mark seems to devote less ink to the trials leading up to the cross than other evangelists, certainly to Pilate. Our familiarity with the whole story of Pilate tends to bleed into our reading here in Mark. That said, how do we evaluate this character?
Sometimes it feels like we give Pilate a pass. It was, after all, the Jewish leaders that twisted his arm. He saw that Jesus wasn’t deserving of death. He even tried to find a way to get Jesus set free. And, it was God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross. Can Pilate really be held accountable for some wrong doing here? Was Pilate perhaps open to more spiritual truth than the Jews? Mark says that he was amazed with Jesus. He also recognized the jealousy of the Jewish leaders.
No. In the end, and even though it feeds into God’s greater plan, Pilate is guilty of wrong. He sends Jesus to His death. He does so in spite of perceiving what is really happening. He does so in spite of the power he had to prevent sentencing Jesus. He does so for the worst of reasons. He wanted to “satisfy the crowd.”
And, ouch! Isn’t that one of the most common sins amongst “Christians” these days? We let the satisfaction of the crowd dominate our decisions far more than we are influenced by the satisfaction of our Lord and Savior.
It is sobering to think that we believe simple understanding is enough to make us right with God. Pilate was amazed (awed) with Jesus. Pilate understood intellectually what was going on in the trial of Jesus. However, he was led by the desires of the crowd. It is not enough to understand what Jesus did and to be awed by Him to be a follower. You have to obey Him in the face of what the world want to be His disciple. He is not Savior unless HE is Lord.