Bible Dreams – The Wife of Pontius Pilate

Bible Dreams – The Wife of Pontius Pilate

Bible Dreams – The Wife of Pontius Pilate.

“That night God came to king Abimelech in a dream…” (Genesis 20:3); “As Jacob slept, he dreamed of a stairway…” (Gen. 28:12); “In my dream, the Angel of the Lord said to me, ‘Jacob!” (Gen. 31:11); “One night, Joseph had a dream…” (Gen. 37:5); “The previous night, God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream…” (Gen. 31:24); “Interpreting dreams is God’s business, so go ahead and tell me your dreams,’ said Joseph.”(Gen. 40:8); “Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed… (Gen. 41:1);“When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord.” (Judges 7:15); “That night, Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream.” (1 Kings 3:5, and 9:2); “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means,’ said King Nebuchadnezzar. He sent for Daniel at once.” (Daniel 2:3, 14); “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream…” (Matthew 1:20, also in 2:19 and 2:22); “God had warned the Magi in a dream.” (Matt. 2:12); “Pilate’s wife sent him a message, saying ‘Let that innocent man alone! I suffered through a terrible nightmare about Him last night!” (Matt. 27:19).

Why would God, who has every means of revelation at His disposal, choose dreams as a way to contact a person and convey vital guidance? Dreams tend to be unreliable, unpredictable, illogical, and poorly remembered if at all. Many if not most dreams don’t seem like a very trustworthy vehicle for divine communication. They can be mistranslated so easily, and sometimes are so bizarre it’s hard to take them seriously. And we know now that dreams can be affected by external things like room temperature, what we ate or drank before bedtime, the events of the day, or even if there are any lingering aromas in the house. And because dreamers are in an unconscious state, dreams are outside of our control as the unfettered imagination runs wild.

Nonetheless, God speaking through dreams didn’t seem to raise any eyebrows in Scripture. Everyone from pagan kings to heroic saints were not surprised by this strategy of God to reach them. We now realize that after decades of so-called dream science, the whole topic of dreams are just as mysterious now as in ancient times. Dreams remain a fascinating frontier when it comes to scientific research, and we still simply cannot confirm why we have this ability to mentally experience vivid pictures, stories and images while in an unconscious state. God in His wisdom knows when to approach someone with divine intervention while a person is in a dream state. He knows who is a likely prospect for His appearance in a dream. Perhaps some people are more receptive to God’s guidance when in an unconscious state, which says a lot about a person’s stubbornness when in a conscious state. Perhaps it is only during a dream that a person doesn’t have much of a choice of whether to listen or not, knowing that dreamers are captive audiences. Maybe God waits for when a certain person’s resistance is down. Perhaps a person’s imagination might be more picturesque and creative during a dream, able to manage an other-worldly, heavenly message. We just don’t know for sure the motivation of God in using dreams, of course, because His very presence is a mystery as He somehow travels back and forth between spiritual, material and imaginative realities. But we do know that God often chooses to work in mysterious ways and in this matter of dreams, He has chosen, and continues to choose, dreams to warn, instruct, guide, reveal His presence, and encourage us. God loves us so much that He will do whatever it takes to reach us whether awake, or asleep, or everything in between.

While Pilate was officially serving as judge, presiding in the court and seated on the judgment seat, his wife sent him an urgent message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous and innocent Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19).

What did she see in her dream that was so terrifying? Did she see Christ being scourged almost to death? Stumbling down the Via Dolorosa? Breathing His last on the Cross in desperate agony? The bloody and beaten body of Jesus as He was taken down from the Cross? We don’t know, but whatever it was absolutely terrified her.

Another thought… Who was it that gave her this dream?

The history of the Christian Church has given us two different ways to look at her dream. The Eastern Orthodox Church has believed from the start that God Himself gave her that dream, to reveal to her what was about to happen. Procura, her traditional name accepted since the early church, is believed to have become a Christian after the Resurrection and is thus venerated as a saint in Orthodoxy.

Most of the Western Church has had a completely different understanding… Her dream was given to her by the devil, a revelation from the dark side to keep Christ from death, because Satan did not want Jesus to sacrifice His life. The devil knew that the shed blood of Jesus would pave the way for the world’s salvation and redemption. No, the devil did not want that to happen!

The Greek word in this passage that refers to her “suffering” is “epathon,” and this is the only time in the Scripture that that particular word is used. The root words all point to “passion” and include pathos: to experience what is agonizing and profoundly painful;  pascho: to be deeply affected emotionally; pathema: to suffer anguish. Her dream was actually more of a nightmare. She was terrified.

Her description of Jesus as a “righteous” man was centered on the Greek word “dikaois,” the character description reserved for someone who is upright, just, innocent, virtuous, noble, a person completely acceptable to God and morally blameless. Procura was powerfully provided with a clear revelation of the Person of Christ, and there is no doubt this compelling picture of Jesus was never forgotten by her. So her urgent message to Pilate was seemingly just in the nick of time. He had just taken his seat on the judgment bench in court at the official hearing for Jesus. She desperately didn’t want her husband to execute an innocent man. She didn’t want her husband to go down in history as someone who would do such a thing! But Pilate apparently shrugged off her message and went the way of all cowards. He submitted to the intimidating voices that ended up making his decision for him. The innocence or guilt of Jesus didn’t matter in the least to him.

On the other hand, wasn’t Pilate in the middle of God’s will here? How could Jesus have sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world if Pilate had released Him? Yes, Matthew recorded that Pilate tried to rid himself of any responsibility in this affair, “washing his hands in front of the crowd, claiming to be clean of this man’s blood.” (27:24). But this tragic figure of Pilate washing his hands doesn’t absolve him of what history has proven him to be… a political opportunist and a nasty brute who would do things like execute untried prisoners, and slaughter Jews while they were worshipping in the Temple (Luke13:1-3). How amazing that God could use a man like Pilate to help accomplish His will of salvation.