One of my main points last Sunday was that “Pilate made the wrong choice.” Some came up afterward and questioned me about that comment because of the fact that the whole event was in God’s timing and Jesus chose when to go to the cross. Could Pilate have done anything else?
I believe that the Scriptures are very clear regarding Jesus death. God had a plan that was in place, but those involved had a choice. Pilate vacillates, manipulates, and ultimately gives in to the Jewish authorities. He appears to do this of his own free will. God certainly foreknew this, but I don’t believe that he ordained this.
When can be clearer about certain people. In the Exodus account God clearly intervenes because he “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart. He can do this whenever He wants in order to accomplish His purposes, but I don’t want to make that claim when it can’t be backed up by Scripture.
So, did God harden Pilate’s heart? He could have, but, knowing what was going to happen, He could have simply “worked all things together for good” and accomplished His purposes anyway!
Why is this so important? I think that we could fool ourselves into thinking that we don’t need to follow God with “all our heart, soul, mind and strength” if He’s going to work it all out anyway. Just because God can work out our mistakes and make them a part of His overall plan, that doesn’t take away our responsibility to do what is right. In this case, Pilate clearly did what was wrong! He acted like an unbeliever, a political weasel, and an opportunist, which is exactly what God knew would happen!