I recently read well known Patience Strong’s 1986 book, “Someone Had To Say It”. The book reviewed the evidence that Celto Saxons are the modern-day Israel and how the evidence for this has been rejected by historians. However, the last chapter of the book was a bit off-topic. It was a very detailed review of a letter written by Pontius Pilate to Tiberius Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, about the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was a very moving portrayal.
Pilate described the appearance of Jesus as follows: “One day in passing by the place of Siloe, where there was a great concourse of people, I observed in the midst of the group a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told it was Jesus. This I could easily have suspected, so great was the difference between Him and those listening to Him. His golden coloured hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about thirty years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between Him and His hearers with their black beards and tawny complexions.”
After hearing some of the words of Jesus at Siloe it seemed that Pilate was very taken by His wisdom. To quote Pilate: “Never have I read in the works of the philosophers anything that can compare to the maxims of Jesus. One of the rebellious Jews, so numerous in Jerusalem, having asked Jesus if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, He replied; Render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and unto God, the things that are God’s.”
Pilate was impressed by Jesus and allowed him unlimited freedom to move about and speak, yet this provoked the Jews: “…not the poor, but the rich and powerful. It is true Jesus was severe on the latter, and this was a political reason, in my opinion, for not restraining the liberty of the Nazarene. ‘Scribes and Pharisees,’ he would say to them ‘you are a race of vipers; you resemble painted sepulchers; you appear well unto men, but you have death within you.’ At other times Pilate would sneer at the alms of the rich and proud, telling them that the mite of the poor was more precious in the sight of God. Complaints were daily made at the Praetorium against the insolence of Jesus.”
Pilate, thus, became very concerned for Jesus’s safety. To try to restore some tranquility Pilate arranged an interview with Jesus to request that he tone down his speeches. Leading up to this meeting, Pilate points out that his own mix of Spanish and Roman blood makes him incapable of fear. However, this changed when he saw Jesus approaching: “When the Nazarene made his appearance I was walking in my basilic….., and I trembled in every limb as does a guilty culprit, though the Nazarene was as calm as innocence itself. When He came up to me He stopped, and by a signal sign He seemed to say to me ‘I am here’, though he spoke not a word. For some time I contemplated this extraordinary type of man – a type of man unknown to our numerous painters, who have given form and figure to all the gods and the heroes. There was nothing about him that was repelling in its character, yet I felt too awed and tremulous to approach Him.”
Pilate tried to persuade Jesus to moderate His discourses in the future for His own safety and in an effort to avoid Pilate having to bring the law down on the “stupid populace”. Pilate was emotional and said that Jesus was more precious on account of His wisdom than all the turbulent and proud Pharisees who abuse the freedoms granted by the Romans. However, Jesus replied to Pilate: “Prince of the earth, your words proceed not from true wisdom……. I come not to bring war into the world but peace, love and charity. I expect persecutions from others and will meet it in obedience to the will of my Father, who has shown me the way. Restrain, therefore, your worldly prudence. It is not in your power to arrest the victim at the foot of the tabernacle of expiation.”
Following this, Pilate’s letter tells how the Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees all conspired against Jesus for the severe reprimands he had given them and called for his death. Even Pilate’s wife was convinced that Jesus was holy. She believed that she could see into futurity, and weeping and throwing herself at Pilate’s feet she said: “Beware, Beware, and touch not that man; for He is holy. Last night I saw him in a vision. He was walking on the waters; He was flying on the wings of the wind. He spoke to the tempest and to the fishes of the lake; all were obedient to Him. Ah! Pilate, evil awaits thee. If thou wilt not listen to the vows of thy wife, dread the curse of a Roman Senate; dread the frowns of Caesar.”
By this time the multitude had grown, calling for the death of Jesus. He was brought before Pilate to be sentenced. “For what crime?” Pilate would ask. The reply was that He had blasphemed and prophesied the ruin of the temple, calling Himself the Son of God; the Messiah, the King of the Jews. They yelled Crucify Him! Crucify Him! What followed in the letter was a further emotional description of the events just prior to and in the days following the crucifixion from the perspective of Pilate.
He describes the crowd as seeming like a whirling vortex, rolling along in living waves with howling screams, shrieks and vociferations such as were never heard before. Pilate relates the mood immediately before and during the crucifixion and it is interesting to note the humanity shown by Pilate: “ …. I was leaning against a column of my basilic contemplating the dreary gloom brought by these friends of Tartarus dragging to execution the innocent Nazarene. All around me was deserted…..An air of desolation and sadness enveloped me. My guards had joined the cavalry, and the centurion, with a display of power, was endeavouring to keep order. I was left alone, and my breaking heart admonished me that what was passing at that moment appertained rather to the history of the gods than that of men. A loud clamour was heard proceeding from Golgotha, which, borne on the winds, seemed to announce an agony such as was never heard by mortal ears. Dark clouds lowered over the pinnacle of the temple, and setting over the city covered it as with a veil. So dreadful were the signs that men saw both in the heavens and on the earth that…….. it was exclaimed: ‘Either the author of nature is suffering or the universe is falling apart.’ “
Following the crucifixion the crowd was returning home. Pilate observed that what they had witnessed had stricken them with terror and remorse. Pilate returned to his Praetorium where he saw an old man lying on the stairs and behind him several Romans in tears. The man threw himself at Pilate’s feet and wept bitterly. Pilate said it is painful to see an old man weep and his heart being already filled with grief they, though strangers, wept together. He noted that he had never witnessed such extreme revulsion of feeling. After gaining control of his feelings Pilate asked the old man who he was and what his request was. The man replied: “’I am Joseph of Arimathaea,’ replied he, ‘and have come to beg of you upon my knees the permission to bury Jesus of Nazareth.’”Pilate granted the request and sent along one hundred soldiers to superintend the interment lest it be profaned. Thus, Joseph buried Jesus in his own tomb but afterwards the sepulchre was found empty.
What follows is a description, from the lieutenant in charge of the soldiers, of the night when the body was removed. He described a soft and beautiful light over the sepulcher – the whole place was lighted up and there seemed to be crowds of the dead in their grave clothes while all around was the most beautiful music he had ever heard. Then there seemed to be a reeling and swimming of the earth so that he turned sick and faint and could not stand. His senses left him and he did not know what occurred. He said he did not know the body was gone until he was told.
Nearing the end of Pilate’s letter to Caesar he emphasizes that the acts and miracles of Jesus were testified by both friends and foes: “He could convert water into wine; he could change death into life, disease into health; He could calm the seas, still the storms, call up fish with a silver coin in His mouth….and he was not charged with any criminal offences.”
He ends the letter by saying that these are as near the facts in the case that he can arrive at. He states that he has taken pains to make the statement very full so that Caesar may judge his conduct. Pilate concludes that all of the above noted facts are known to thousands and: “I am almost ready to say as did Manlius (his secretary) at the cross: ‘Truly this was the Son of God’.”
Authored by Lindsay Mills
The Editor’s Comments: Writing must run in the Mills’ family. This is our longtime correspondent, Holly Mills’ brother Lindsay’s first article. And it is such an important and well written message, that we decided to lead off our May issue with it. Readers, I know it will inspire you and Lindsay, don’t be a one-time contributor.
Both Holly and Lindsay had a head-start on the message. They were born into a family that began teaching them the Israel Truth at a very young age. In fact, their mother, Bess Mills, never stopped learning herself, in her nineties, she was still working and studying in our Burnaby offices. What a trooper! Perhaps this is why Lindsay says the message occupies most of his thoughts every day. He’s retired now, living in Ontario with his wife and three children, but as a city planner for over 28 years, he took advantage of many opportunities to spread news of the Kingdom message.