Orlando de Oliveira Filho is a pastor in Brazil.

Every day we make choices. In the morning, we choose what to wear. If we are having ice cream for dessert, we choose a flavor. While it is true that not all choices have significant consequences, good choices usually generate good consequences, and bad choices usually generate bad consequences. 

We learn by observing similarities and contrasts. The Bible tells many stories about people who made good and bad decisions. Today we will reflect upon three decisions in the life of Pilate.


A church member once asked me whether Pilate was really guilty of Jesus’ death; after all, someone had to condemn Him to death. Since Pilate only fulfilled prophecy, wasn’t he just following God’s plan? However, if we read Matthew 27:19 carefully, we see that Pilate’s wife, guided by God, warned her husband not to get involved in Jesus’ trial. Pilate was warned, not by his wife but by God.

We are told in The Desire of Ages that “Pilate was not left to act blindly.”1 God will never leave anyone to act blindly if he or she sincerely seeks His guidance. God helps us make decisions. God’s guiding principles are expressed in His Word, the Bible.

If God’s stand on a topic is not expressed directly in the Bible, I might ask Him for a sign so He can guide my decision. However, never think that God will answer the prayer of a thief asking for a sign to know whether or not he should rob a bank. God has already given this principle in His Word: “Thou shalt not steal.”


Pilate’s second error is found in verses 21 and 22, when he consulted the multitude about Jesus and Barabbas: “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” and “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Rather than making a decision, Pilate asked the people which of the two men he should release.

Dear friends, never ask the world, the multitude, the TV, the newspapers, or a friend whether you should stay on Jesus’ side. Joshua did not allow the people to choose for him but said firmly, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Do not be influenced. You have free will. You make the choice.

When Pilate asked the multitude, “What shall I do with Jesus?” he sealed his condemnation, for one day Jesus will dress in His robe as Judge. Then He will make the final decision about Pilate.

In Matthew 10:32, Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven.” In other words, what we do with Jesus here is what He will do with us in the final Judgment. It is hard for us to hear this, but those who walk with Christ, who decide for Jesus before the world, who testify that Jesus is Lord of their lives, Jesus will reward them, giving their names to the Father who will give them eternal life.


Pilate’s last wrong choice was to wash his hands of Jesus. In Bible times, when a man refused to take sides on a matter, he washed his hands in public, demonstrating an attitude of neutrality. But we cannot remain neutral. We cannot say, “I serve neither God nor Satan.” We serve one or the other, whether we recognize it or not. By pretending to stay on neutral ground, we place ourselves on the enemy’s side.

Choosing for or against Jesus Christ is our greatest decision. It is the most far-reaching choice human beings can make, bringing consequences that will last for eternity. If we choose God, we will have eternal life; if we choose the enemy, we will have eternal death.

Dear friends, this very important choice must be made today. Pilate washed his hands of Jesus. Today, I wash my hands of Jesus when I don’t study the Bible, when I don’t pray or don’t go to church, when I gossip, and when I do not witness to others. 

We learn by similarities and contrasts. Pilate’s actions on one eventful night offer a clear example of a bad decision. Let us make our choice for Jesus today, choosing to be on His side in this great conflict, showing the world what it means to serve Christ.


Ellen G. White penned these stirring words: “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”2

We make choices every day. Do we “stand for the right though the heavens fall?” Do our choices honor our Savior and demonstrate our love for Him?

1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 732.
2 ———, Education, 57.

Orlando de Oliveira Filho is a pastor in Brazil.

Sermon Notes: