Pontius Pilate was a key figure in the trial of Jesus Christ, ordering Roman troops to carry out Jesus’ death by Crucifixion. As a Roman Governor and Supreme Judge in the province of Judea from 26-37AD Pilate had the sole authority to execute a criminal. This soldier and politician found himself caught between the unforgiving Empire of Rome and the religious scheming of the Jewish council the Sanhedrin.
Pontius Pilate was assigned to collect taxes, oversee building projects and keep law and order. He maintained peace through brute force and subtle negotiation. His predecessor Valerius Gratus went through three High Priests before he found one to his liking, Caiaphas, who apparently knew how to cooperate with the Roman overseers. Pontius Pilate was probably a successful soldier before he received this appointment through patronage.
In the Gospels he is portrayed as finding no fault with Jesus and symbolically washes his hands of the matter. Pontius Pilate was weak because he was afraid of the Sanhedrin and a possible riot. He knew Jesus was innocent of the charges against him yet gave in to the crowd and had Jesus crucified anyway. A lesson from Pilate is: what is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular. He sacrificed an innocent man to avoid problems for himself. Disobeying God to go along with the crowd is a very serious matter. As Christians we must be prepared to obey God even when it’s not popular.