As we have followed the life of Christ, we have seen the importance that dreams have played. We first encounter Mary when the angel appears to her in a dream telling her that she will conceive. We hear about the dreams of Joseph: first, that he should take Mary as his wife, and later, when he is told in a dream to take his family and flee to Egypt. He has another dream telling him that it is okay to return to Israel. The magi too dream that they should not return by the same road that they previously travelled.

And now we come to yet another dream found in Matthew 27:19. This dream sounds very much like a nightmare. Pilate’s wife sends word to Pilate that he should have nothing to do with Jesus. Her nightmare has caused her great suffering, and she knows that things will end badly.

Pontius Pilate is a name that lives in infamy. Identified as the Roman governor of Judea in Luke 3:1, Pilate is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:25, and John 19:16). All four identify him as the one who gave the official order for Jesus to be crucified.

Even though the Gospels make it clear that Pilate gave his final order to appease a mob that was demanding that Jesus be killed, the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed both put the blame on Pilate. The Apostles Creed says that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” and the Nicene Creed says that Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate.”

The accounts of how Jesus and Pilate interacted are nearly identical in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Here is a review: The chief priests and elders take Jesus to Pilate. They accuse him before Pilate; Jesus does not respond to their accusations. Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replies, “You have said so.” Finding no “guilt” in Jesus that is worthy of a death sentence, Pilate decides to punish Jesus by flogging him and then release him. Pilate asks the chief priests, elders, and crowd which man to release: Jesus or Barabbas? The chief priests and elders persuade the crowd to ask for Barabbas. Pilate asks, “What shall I do with Jesus?” The crowd responds, “Crucify him!” Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’s blood, releases Barabbas, and delivers Jesus to be crucified. One sentence in one Gospel, however, provides a different perspective on the infamous Roman governor: Matthew 27:19: (Christian Standard Bible)
While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of him.”

Pilate and his wife lived in Caesarea Maritime, about 75 miles north of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean coast. Pilate had come down to Jerusalem for Passover to keep the peace. The fact that his wife was with him, and that she sent him a message at a critical time, suggests that the two were close.

In his Homilies on Matthew, the third-century Christian scholar and theologian Origen suggests that God sent Pilate’s wife the dream so that she may come to know Christ. Other theologians from the first few centuries to the Middle Ages also supported this view.

Certain segments of the Orthodox Christian Church hold that Pilate’s wife, who sometimes is given the name Procula Claudia, not only converted to Christianity after the Resurrection but also was executed as a Christian. These Christian denominations consider her a saint.

We may never know for sure if Pilate’s wife became a Christian. We don’t know if she shared her testimony with other early Christians. We don’t have proof that she had any direct or indirect contact with one or more of the Gospel writers, or if she encouraged her husband to follow Christ.

Could it be that the writer of the gospel of Matthew had another message for us? The story of Jesus begins with dreams fulfilled but it ends here with a dream ignored. As followers of Christ, so often, we are told to pay attention. As we listen to the story of the crucifixion and death of Jesus this week, let us pay attention to what it means for us. How does this story give meaning to OUR lives? What dreams are we dreaming in this season of renewal?