In Matthew 27:19 we read where Pilate’s wife seemed to have had a prophetic or an inspired dream, causing her to advise her husband not to have anything to do with the judgment or conviction of Christ. My question is what was the Lord trying to accomplish by giving such a dream to Pilate’s wife? Surely it could not have been an attempt to prevent the crucifixion. Any input would be sincerely appreciated.
You’ve discovered yet another variation on the old theme vying God’s omniscience and omnipotence against our agency (or free will). God’s plan requires opposition, but He’s not going to be the first tempter to get the ball rolling. God’s plan requires a sacrificed Redeemer, but He is not going to command individuals to betray the Lord or put Him to open shame. “It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom offences cometh” (Matt. 18:7).
Most biblical commentators (including our own apostles) paint Pilate as someone who has painted himself into a corner. He came in rough and forceful and offended the local populace on a number of occasions. Any political capital that he came in with has long been spent. Now, when he sees such a gross injustice requested, he is powerless to stop it without yet another riot on his hands – and this one will certainly cost him his job!
For a man of conscience, he should “do what is right let the consequence follow”, but his conscience is in a stupor. He struggles to find Truth when it is standing before him. His choices are shackled by the past, and he cannot see that his own freedom is bound before him. What fools we proud sinners be.
At last, in shines a light he recognizes. His wife speaks what his conscience could only whisper. “Have thou nothing to do with that just man” (Matt. 27:19). Do the right thing Pilate! It may be too late for your job and your home here, but it is not too late for you! The leaders may stone Him anyway, they may get the new leadership to crucify Him, but you will be clean!
Pilate compromises himself. He gives in to the Jews’ request. He crucifies Grace Himself; but if he will destroy himself, he will at least satirize the Jews as well. Instead of the allegation “he said, I am King of the Jews”, Pilate has written the definitive “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:21). And like so many spiteful actions, observers may chuckle at the good ribbing, but it does nothing to cure the diseased soul.
As for Pilate’s wife, her vision falls in line with a history of women saving the men in their lives. Rebekah, not Isaac, was given the revelation that Jacob was the birthright son. Her husband (as far as our records state) did not openly accept the revelation, but he let his wife work to see its fulfillment. When the day of blessing came, he tacitly agreed with her by giving Jacob the double portion, even though he himself preferred Esau (Gen. 25, 27).
Deborah called Balak to defend Israel. He recognized the value of having a prophetess in his camp and refused to leave unless she went with him. She was for him, along with Rebekah, Pilate’s wife, and all such women-counsellors, as the personified Wisdom of Proverbs:
“Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them…. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength” (8:6-8, 14).