From then on, Pilate tried to free Jesus, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” [John 19:12]
Who Was Caesar?
Caesar was a Roman family name that gained fame through Caesar Augustus, who introduced a new era in Roman affairs in 27 BC. He established what is now known as the Roman Empire [Luke 2:1]. Later rulers adopted ‘Caesar’ as their title [Luke 3:1].
In the New Testament, it was common to refer to the Emperor as Caesar [Mark 12:14, Luke 20:22, Acts 17:7, John 19:15]. At that time, Caesar was the Emperor of the Roman Empire and had appointed Pilate as governor of Judea. Caesar was regarded as a god due to his achievements and authority, earning the loyalty of all the people in the Roman Empire and its provinces during his reign. Calling oneself a king was seen as a rebellion against Caesar. Those appointed governors by Caesar were expected to remain loyal and promote Caesar’s interests to retain their positions and benefits.
The Caesars Of Our Time
The Caesars of our time are the benefactors who assist and support us in various ways. They provide financial and material aid, help connect us with others, and act as our destiny helpers. These modern-day Caesars can be our spouses, siblings, friends, or children who offer significant support. They can also be employers, supervisors, or individuals whose influence and recommendations can make a difference in our lives.
Unfortunately, some modern Caesars engage in illegal activities, such as financing illegal mining and defrauding others. They may also be leaders who exploit unemployed female graduates by demanding sexual favours in exchange for employment; teachers and lecturers who take advantage of students for sexual favours in return for good grades are also part of these Caesars. Additionally, they can be wealthy individuals, particularly older women and widows, who provide financial assistance to young men with ulterior motives.
Many of these benefactors expect loyalty and support, even if their actions are morally wrong, as they have helped their beneficiaries. This situation leaves many young people unable to complain about the abuse they face from their benefactors, as their jobs and livelihoods depend on them. Sadly, the disloyalty of these beneficiaries could result in the loss of benefits, such as termination of employment, financial assistance cessation, or demotion. Even some pastors fall into this trap, unable to rebuke or suspend their supporters due to the economic and material support they receive.
Numerous Caesars in churches buy off pastors and church workers with money and gifts. In various sectors, including media, entertainment, education, healthcare, and politics, these Caesars perpetuate high levels of corruption without facing confrontation because they employ or promote those who could expose their evil deeds. Some individuals in security agencies also maintain friendships with top officials through gifts, money, or other forms of support, which prevents their pursuit of perpetrators of evil acts.
God seeks unselfish Caesars who will not cover up their wicked deeds and abuse or exploit the vulnerable. God desires Caesars who will allow their Pilates to rebuke and correct them when they go wrong. Be the Caesar whom Pilate can fearlessly tell the truth while still maintaining his position as governor. Do not take God’s glory by allowing yourself to be worshipped as a god. What kind of benefactor are you to your beneficiaries?
Who Was Pilate?
Pilate was a man appointed by Caesar as the governor of Judea and Samaria from AD 26 to 37. Some notable things about Pilate are worth mentioning:
Firstly, Pilate was a friend of Caesar. In John 19:16, it is mentioned that Pilate tried to set Jesus free but was pressured by the Jews, who claimed that releasing Jesus would make him an enemy of Caesar. Despite knowing Jesus was innocent, Pilate handed him over to be crucified to maintain his friendship with Caesar.
Secondly, Pilate’s primary concern was for himself. He feared getting into trouble with the Emperor if a riot broke out under his watch. To protect his interests and satisfy the Jews, he chose to crucify Jesus, an innocent man, while releasing a known murderer.
Thirdly, Pilate feared men more than God. His fear of Caesar, who appointed him governor, and his fear of losing his position clouded his judgment.
Furthermore, Pilate was a man who tried to uncover the truth in every matter but failed to defend it. He stated three times that he found no basis for charging Jesus (John 19:6), yet he couldn’t muster the courage to protect the truth.
Pilate possessed the power to free or crucify, making him responsible for protecting the vulnerable and punishing wrongdoers. Unfortunately, he failed to fulfil this duty.
In addition, Pilate was a man of influence.
The Pilates of Our Time
The Pilates of our time can be likened to those who have the opportunity to promote or champion God’s agenda but refuse due to fear or pressure. These modern-day Pilates are the people in positions of power who should defend the truth and stand up for the innocent but choose not to due to the fear of losing their jobs or popularity.
They are responsible for administering justice but withhold it because their actions may affect the ones who appointed or promoted them. The Pilates of our time is the lawyers who could defend innocent people in jail but choose not to while allowing criminals and murderers to roam freely. They are the ones who compromise the truth to please influential individuals, similar to how Pilate chose to support evil to maintain his position and relationships.
God is searching for modern-day Pilates who won’t trade the truth for personal gain, will make good use of the positions they receive through their connections, and will choose to hand over the guilty rather than the innocent, regardless of pressure.
God seeks people who won’t compromise their principles for fame, position, or material gain. He desires Pilates, whom money, gifts, promotions, or jobs cannot sway.
Questions for Reflection
As you reflect on this topic, consider the following questions:
- Who is your friend, and what is the foundation of your friendship?
- Where does your loyalty lie: with God or with man?
- Have you allowed yourself to be swayed by gifts, positions, sex, or money?
- To whom have you pledged your allegiance?
- Have you traded the truth for material gain or position?
- Are you easily intimidated by the pressure exerted by those around you?
- What motivates your actions and decisions?
- Whom do you seek to please: God or influential individuals?
- Are you a Pilate, a friend of Caesar?
In response to the apostles’ actions, Peter and his companions declared, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). While Christians are called to respect earthly authorities, their ultimate loyalty and obedience should be directed towards Christ Jesus. We are called to prioritise obedience to God over compliance to man.
This principle should guide us as believers in Christ when we encounter conflicts between God’s commands and human orders. In such situations, we should obey God rather than men, regardless of the individuals involved.
Every devoted follower of Christ must be prepared to face persecution and rejection in defence of the truth found in Christ. It is essential to remember that those who have contributed to our lives or provided for our needs are not our gods but channels through whom God has blessed us. We should refrain from worshipping them as gods and avoid becoming enslaved to them. We have one master who reigns in heaven.
If you find yourself in a position of authority akin to the Caesars of our time, it is crucial to recognise that God establishes and removes kings. Therefore, it is essential not to abuse this privilege but to utilise it for the glory of God.
To those who resemble Pilate, I implore you to take a stand for God because He stands with anyone who stands for Him. Let us never exploit our influence or position to pervert justice or perpetuate evil.
Written by Probationary Overseer Godsway Benny Torgbegah