Mention is made of Pilate in the passion of Christ: 1. Because Christ obtained from this judge the testimony of his innocence. 2. That we might know that he, though declared innocent by this judge, was nevertheless condemned, and that by a regular judgment. 3. That we might be impressed by the fulfillment of prophecy. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it ; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. (Ez. 21:27; Gen. 49:10.) The name of Pilate is then mentioned that we may be fully certain, that Jesus is the Messiah that was to come: for then already the sceptre was taken away, because he was condemned by a Roman judge.
But why was it necessary that Christ should suffer under a judge, and be condemned by the ordinary course of the law?
1. That we may know that he was condemned of God himself, on ac count of our sins, and that he has, therefore, made satisfaction to God for us, that we may not be condemned by his severe judgment, just as he suffered death for us, that we might be delivered from it. For he who directs, and presides over ordinary judgments is God himself.
2. That Christ might obtain a testimony of his innocence from the very judge by whom he was condemned. Therefore it was not proper that he should have been secretly carried away by the Jews, nor put to death by a tumult; but when there was a lawful process and trial, and an investigation of all the accusations brought against him, the Father willed, first, that he should be examined that his innocence might thus be made to appear. Secondly, that he should be condemned that it might appear, that he being before declared innocent, was now condemned, not for his own, but for our crimes; and that thus his unjust sentence to death might be in the place of our most righteous condemnation. Thirdly, that he should be put to death, as well that the prophecies might be fulfilled, as that it might be made manifest that both the Jews and Gentiles were the executioners of this wicked deed. This circumstance, therefore, in the passion of Christ is to be carefully considered that we may know that this Jesus who was condemned by Pilate is the Messiah, and that we, through him, are delivered from the severe judgment of God.
Hence we are now led to ask, What is it to believe in Jesus Christ, who suffered under Pontius Pilate? To this we reply, that it does not merely include a historical faith, but it involves such a belief in Christ as leads us to confide in his passion. It is therefore to believe, first, that Christ, from the very moment of his birth, endured, arid sustained miseries of every kind ; and that he, especially at the closing period of his life, suffered under Pilate the most severe torments both of body and soul, and that he felt the dreadful wrath of God, in making a satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and in appeasing the divine anger which had been excited by sin. It is also to believe, in the second place, that he endured all this in my behalf, and has thus satisfied also for my sins by his passion, and merited for me remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.