|Antoni Ciseri’s 1871 “Ecce Homo — Behold the Man”|
I thought of this famous painting this morning when I read Matthew 27. Matthew’s Gospel alone mentions Pilate’s wife telling him to have nothing to do with Jesus. She told her husband of a troubling dream and said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
What I find especially interesting about the painting is where Ciseri positions us, the viewers. We don’t see the face of Jesus, the face of Pilate or of the faces of the seething crowd, begging for Jesus’ death. The only figure whose face we can clearly make out is that of the tall, elegantly dressed Roman matron, who observers have long believed represents Pilate’s wife. Notice her left hand is placed in apparent resignation upon her maid’s left shoulder. Her back is turned from Pilate.
More literally, perhaps, he has turned his back on her.
* Was her troubling dream from God?
* Was it a dream from the evil one?
* What really was going on here?
Several times I read Pilate’s chilling words and the crowd’s response: “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” Pilate said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Then I turned to John 10 and pondered these words of our Lord: 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (NIV)