Women in the Bible

Women in the New Testament - Pilots Wife

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is married to Pip and is one of the leaders at St Mary's.

Matthew 27: 19-20

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.'

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

Reflection

This is yet another instance in the Bible where we only get a small insight into a character. Matthew is the only gospel that included this account of Pilate's unnamed wife.

Given that she is married to a Roman official we can assume that she is gentile and not Jewish. She was almost certainly wealthy and influential, even if only because she is married to Pilate. But she also has Pilate's ear which is serious influence. She is able to speak and give her thoughts on the arrested Jesus.

She has a dream that causes her suffering. This sounds like she had a nightmare about Jesus that is so visceral that she messages her husband urging him to not get involved with this. She knows Jesus is innocent (so does Pilate) and is facing a miscarriage of justice. Pilate sort of follows her advice and hands the decision back to the crowd, but he doesn't do the right thing and save Jesus.

So we have a woman who has a nightmare, who offers advice that is partly ignored and then we never hear of her again. How does this relate to us?

God can speak through anyone. If you're looking for guidance, you will have no doubt asked your friends or other trusted people to pray and share what they think God is saying. This a good thing to do. But let's also be open to how God may be speaking to us through unlikely people too.

Use your influence to achieve justice. Some of us are more influential than others. Some of us have the ears of politicians and national or local leaders. Some of us have influence on a smaller scale - perhaps you have the ear of your manager, or have favour with your CEO. Use your influence to nudge towards justice.

Choose to act with integrity. Pilate's wife was more honest and moral than many more allegedly godly people were in the account of Jesus' trial. She spoke as a lone voice against religious leaders, violent mobs, Roman soldiers and even her husband. We can all make small actions for the right reasons: we could support local businesses, buy good quality meat, choose ethical holiday destinations, switch lights off, campaign for equality, educate ourselves about others' experiences of injustice.

We can all do our little bit, because it's the right thing to do. God is looking not for us to be successful, or achieve targets, he's looking for us to be faithful in doing the things he wants us to do regardless of the outcome.

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