The Dream Of Pontius Pilate’s Wife
Published: April 29, 2010
“And 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 over him today in a dream.’” (Mt 27:19)
I struggled all night to break free of that terrible dream. I could see the ravaged prisoner shivering there, tears mingling with blood on his face. I saw my husband nervously questioning him. I witnessed the frenzied, screaming crowd clamoring for blood. My husband had sent other men to death, of course, but something about this man was different, and I could tell my husband was afraid to sentence him.
But the crowd was on the verge of rioting. And so, in my dream, my husband tried to placate them by offering to free one prisoner—either the one called Jesus or another man, a savage murderer. I could tell my husband expected them to choose Jesus, but who could have imagined they would prefer a vicious killer instead?
In my dream, I watched, horrified, as my husband asked the people what to do with Jesus—and those terrible words exploded: “Crucify him!” Then Jesus suddenly looked at me, and I will never forget the expression in his eyes. I expected to see anger and bitterness, but there was something very different there.
I tried to wake myself up then, but the dream held me fast. And there I was, among a group of people weeping bitterly beneath a cross, and when I looked up, I saw with horror the man who was dying there. The sky turned bruised and purple, and the earth convulsed—and I thought the end of the world had come.
I ran as fast as I could back home, where I found my husband lying on the bedroom floor. I have never before seen such an expression of anguish in his eyes. He was no longer strong and self-assured. He was completely broken.
“Oh, God, what have I done?” he shouted. “Who did I put to death?”
I woke up then, my heart racing. I called out for my husband, but he had already left the house. I dressed quickly and ran down the road with only one thought: to warn him about my dream.
The crowd was huge and turning violent, and I couldn’t get through, so I found a soldier and wrote down a message for my husband. “It’s urgent,” I told the soldier. But to my great sorrow, my husband didn’t heed my warning that Jesus was a righteous man, and he should have nothing to do with him. And in the end, I watched in silent horror as the terrible events in my dream unfolded, one by one—and Jesus died on the cross.
Three days later, I found my husband sitting silently. “They say Jesus has come back to life,” he said with a stricken look on his face. “Dear God, what have I done?” And then he turned to me and asked, “Can God ever forgive me?”
I told my husband what I still believe is true, with all my heart. The man who went to that terrible death truly was the Son of God. But that man would forgive my husband. I know this for certain because of my dream. You see, I had looked into Jesus’ eyes. And all I saw there was mercy.
Lorraine Murray’s latest books are “The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O’Connor’s Spiritual Journey” and “Death in the Choir,” a mystery set in Decatur. Artwork is by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com). The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Readers may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.