Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
(Matthew 27:15-23 ESV)
Jesus was arrested around midnight. He was immediately tried by the Jewish authorities (twice) and then was brought to Pontius Pilate around daybreak [John 19:14]. This was not the normal time for the Roman governor to be on the job hearing cases. But the Jewish authorities badly wanted to rid themselves of Jesus so they acted with a sense of urgency and woke Pilate at a very early hour.
While he was in the middle of hearing Jesus’ case his wife sent word to him. His wife was asleep in their bedroom while Pilate conducted the trial. And while she was sleeping she had a dream about Jesus.
We aren’t told what the dream was exactly but from this passage we can tell that it made a very strong impression on her as it would not be acceptable for a wife to interrupt her husband – the Roman governor – in the middle of a trial. We also know that the dream distressed her (suffered much) because the dream revealed to her that Jesus was a righteous man.
Perhaps she woke up when the Jewish leaders came to her home. And perhaps she knew why they had come – Pilate may have told her or maybe she overheard. In any case, it seems that she knew Jesus was being tried by her husband at that very hour and she sent word to him to let Jesus go free based on the dream she had.
Pilate had already determined that Jesus was innocent. His superior, Herod, had also come to that conclusion. His wife’s dream was yet another confirmation of Jesus’ innocence. Notice how many chances God gave Pilate to do the right thing. As we’ll find out tomorrow, he decides not to do the right thing.
But this is how God works. A while back we saw Jesus do the same thing with Judas – He gave him numerous chances to repent and change the course his life was on. He, too, decided not to comply.
God never stops trying to get a person’s attention. From the moment a person is born until the moment they breathe their last breath, God does all He can – short of controlling that person’s mind outright – to get a person to repent and believe and be saved [John 3:16; Acts 16:31].
To that end God is constantly exposing people to the gospel. This may take the form of a friend talking to someone about Jesus. Or perhaps God leads a person to a website that teaches the gospel. God can use many methods to expose people to His truth. He can even work through dreams.
Dreams are an important and common way God reaches people, especially in places where the gospel is banned. I’ve met many Muslims over the years who learned about Jesus in a dream. Muslims call these dreams “Isa Dreams” (Isa being the name of Jesus in Arabic).
As we learned a few weeks ago, God promises that, despite attempts to suppress it, the gospel will not be stopped. God will never cease exposing people to it because without it eternity is hell.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.