Suffering Dreams

While everyone knows that Pontius Pilate literally washed his hands of the execution of Jesus the Christ, fewer recall that Pilate’s own wife might have encouraged him by revealing the theme of a terrible nightmare she had suffered.

While her husband presided over the traditional feast-day prisoner release, Pilate’s wife lay sleeping upon her couch. Pilate ostensibly served Caesar, but depended upon the cooperation of his Jewish constituents to maintain peace in the occupied province. He knew that the Jewish leaders had arrested and delivered the poor carpenter’s son out of envy and so hoped that the crowd would accept his release. After all, if this Jesus was guilty of anything, it was merely offending the Sanhedrin and the sects. He appeared to pose no real threat to Rome, nor even to Pilate’s authority. 

“Besides, 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 because of him today in a dream’” (Matthew 27:19).

The possibility exists that God visited Pilate’s wife in her nightmare, just as he had delivered prophecy to Joseph and Nebuchadnezzar centuries before. It is also possible, however, that her dream was entirely self-induced, the product of a guilty conscience and an active imagination.

In this modern age when miracles have long ago ceased, we do not expect God to visit us in our dreams and deliver secret messages into our semi-conscious minds. Certainly, though, it is very possible that our dreams can reveal things to us that we are afraid to confront when awake. 

Just as a child will have nightmares after watching a scary movie, so anyone can become burdened by dreaming about sinful things that he has chosen for his entertainment while awake. Where he might consciously inhibit himself from acting upon his lusts or even fantasizing about them, his dreams might not be quite as regulated. Evil thoughts do not appear out of nowhere and dreams about committing acts of wickedness – violence, murder, sexual immorality – just might have their origin in our very conscious, waking choices.

One should not be surprised if he dreams about spooks and goblins after watching Freddy and Jason slice and dice their way across the big screen. Nor should he be shocked if perusing erotic websites or watching sexually-themed movies leads to dreams of the same flavor. 

If our minds are like tablets, we spend our days writing upon them, and sometimes the pages we would conceal are exposed when night falls and our eyelids close. While not all dreams can be traced to daytime excursions, those than can should remind us of the corrupting power of sinful entertainment. 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).