The Conscience of a Spouse

March 21st, 2014

While [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” —Matthew 27:19

The New Testament does not give us the name of Pontius Pilate’s wife, though the traditions of the third-century church call her Procula (and much later she is identified by the name Claudia or Claudia Procula). The Eastern Orthodox Church recognizes her as a saint, as does the Ethiopian Church.

In a sense she played the role in the New Testament of Esther in the Old Testament. Esther was the wife of King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) of Persia. Esther’s husband had already deposed one queen for standing up to him and opposing his wishes. Further, there was a law that extended the death penalty to anyone who approached the king’s throne without being invited. But when Esther learned that the king had signed a decree that would result in the complete annihilation of all the Jews, she courageously pleaded the case of her people; and as a result they were saved. Esther is remembered every year at the Jewish festival of Purim for her courage in standing up for justice

Procula was the Roman wife of Pontius Pilate. Her powerful husband held the fate of the Son of God in his hands. Procula did not know the identity of Jesus; but she had been troubled in her dreams about him, and she knew he was not guilty. She sent word to Pilate to have “nothing to do with that innocent man” (Matthew 27:19). Such interference in an official trial must have been most remarkable and required courage on Procula’s part. Yet unlike King Ahasuerus, who took seriously the counsel of his wife Esther, Pilate did not heed Procula’s words.

In the Book of Esther it was Haman, one of the king’s nobles, who wished to destroy the Jewish people. His wife, Zesher, far from standing up to her husband and calling him to do what was right, actually encouraged him in his sin. She stood in stark contrast to the righteous Esther.

Married persons must understand that part of the call from God in marriage is to help your spouse do the right and just thing. Are you willing to confront your mate and speak up when he or she is considering an action that will harm others, even if your words might result in conflict with your mate? Further, are you open to hearing your mate when he or she challenges your actions or decisions? King Ahasuerus was, and he will be forever remembered for retracting his edict. Pontius Pilate refused to heed the words of his wife, and he will be forever remembered for the resulting action.

Lord, help me to have the courage of Esther and Procula by speaking up in the face of wrong. Give me the wisdom of Ahasuerus, who listened to his mate and changed his course of action as a result. Teach me courage and humility. Amen.

excerpt from: Journey to the Cross: Reflecting on 24 Hours That Changed the World by Adam Hamilton Copyright©2014 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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