I want to kind of clarify my thought process a bit. I think that thanking Pilate was absolutely hasty and a gut reaction to a thought process that for the first time I had actually processed verbally on... paper? Sort of? Anyways... as a commenter noted, if we thank Pilate we have to thank Judas - which is a totally fair argument. An offline discussion on the topic has helped me to further see that clearly and I appreciate that conversation. Pilate & Judas were tools and - to the commenter Jeff's point - were corrupt people whose heart conditions were made apparent by how they took part in delivering Jesus to his ultimate fate.
In fact - I love these words that the person in my offline conversation used to sum everything up: "What I'm saying is that the horror of what Pilate did does not in any way deserve gratitude, REGARDLESS of what God did with it. That's the miracle of Jesus. He can take EVIL and CORRUPTION and turn it into peace and justice."
So I retract my gratitude towards Pilate in this instance, but - I still wonder every time I read the passages below what it must have been like to be Pilate. I don't know how much he knew about Jesus to that point, but the text makes it seem like not much. The crowds tell him "This man claims he's the Son of God!" - and that makes him PAUSE. Then he asks Jesus "Who ARE you?"... THIS is the part I always get hung up on. This part of the story ALWAYS makes me pause and think - wait... he didn't know who he was sentencing?
I see in this moment, in this text, the same person I was in the infancy of my faith. Only... I didn't have Jesus right in front of me. Trying to decide if He should live or die. Knowing in my gut that He was innocent but the "proof" that the crowd showing me otherwise... I do NOT envy that. Here is Pilate, the seed of his faith being planted by being faced with an innocent Jesus... and feeling pressure to make a decision that he knows is wrong. KNOWS.
Or maybe I did have Jesus right in front of me the whole time. Maybe we all do... and then at that moment when we're faced with Him we say "Wait... Who ARE you??". Just like Pilate did. What decision we make from there - that's up to us. Pilate's choice... right, wrong, or indifferent... it was the choice he made.
So I don't know... but what I do know is that like I said - I retract my thank-you. Why?
Because I shouldn't be thanking Pilate. I should be thanking God for it being His will that Jesus die on the cross - PERIOD.
No one else. Just God.
Dear God... I thank you for your Son. I thank you for giving us scripture that we can discuss to help us find You and help us to build our faith and see our own flaws. I pray that I can continue to dive into Your word and see how you tie everything together from our broken selves to make amazing things. I thank you for the people you've surrounded me with who are there to help me talk and think through things. I pray that never stops - I never want to stop seeking your truth. I pray these things in Jesus' name... AMEN.