The Woman with a Dream
Daily Reading: (Matthew 27:19):
“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”
There are some things that we know about this dream. First of all, the purpose of the dream was not to try and change the outcome of Jesus going to the cross and dying for our sins. It was prophesied to happen, it was necessary, and the timing was right. Jesus, the Lamb of God, died at that same time as when the lamb would be offered as an atonement for the sins of the people. If He didn’t die, we would all be separated from God forever. In fact, Jesus said, John 10:17-18: “The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”
Even though we aren’t privy to all things about the dream we do know how the dream made Pontius Pilate’s wife feel and also the context of what was happening leading up to the dream. So, let’s start with the context of what is happening before the dream comes.
Meanwhile, Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:11-14).
“Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd” (Matthew 27:15).
The Romans introduced the practice when they colonized Judea, perhaps as a conciliatory gesture towards those who felt they had been mistreated by harsh Roman law.
“At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas” (Matthew 27:16).
Did you catch that? There were two Jesuses on trial, so to distinguish the two, Pilate identifies the rebel by referring to his last name. “Do you want me to release the first Jesus who is called Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ means Messiah.
So, when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matthew 27:17-18).
At this point is when the message from Pilate’s wife will reach him. The most interesting part is that Pilate’s wife refers to Jesus not just as innocent as the text reads, but also as righteous (dikaios). The “righteous” Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as a righteous man, but this woman did. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a coming Righteous One or Righteous Branch (Isaiah 24:16, 53:11, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15). Pilate’s wife was the first person in the New Testament to recognize Jesus as righteous. I believe the reason for the dream was a chance for salvation for both Pontius Pilate and also his wife.
“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death” (Matthew 27:20).
Some would say, well, the dream didn’t accomplish its intended goal, but dreams of our Father always do and so did this one. When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility” (Matthew 27:24)!
The chief priests said that if Pilate released Jesus, he was no friend of Caesar (John 19:12). This was Pilate’s weakness. Pilate could not afford to be on the wrong side of Caesar.
“All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). And in a manner of speaking, it was. Jesus’ blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, for men, women, and children, for all who receive Him.
I want to look at Pilate’s wife’s response to her dream again: She said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”
“I suffered a great deal”- and what is interesting is this Greek word for suffered is (paschō) and it can either be in a good sense or a bad sense, to be well off because of it, and also to suffer sadly because of it.
In this case, perhaps it was both. She has the realization that Jesus is going to die a horrible death for her sins. This is causing her to tremble at the thought of what is to come for Jesus the innocent righteous man, but also how well off this will make her, for the Lamb would be slain for our sins.
The outcome of the scene with the angry mob is recorded in Matthew 27:26: “Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
Pilate released Barabbas. The sinner was freed and the righteous man bore his punishment (Matthew 27:26). This is who we are in this story we are Barabbas, the ones who deserved punishment. On the cross, the Lord Jesus took the punishment sinners deserved for their sin. Jesus did not deserve to die; He willingly took every sinner’s place and died for our sins. The death of Jesus was one of substitution “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18, the innocent for the guilty, the perfect for the corrupt. Although Jesus had no personal sin to pay for, He was, as Pilate’s wife said, “an innocent man”, the only Righteous One.