LETTER TO TIBERIUS CAESAR
FROM PONTIUS PILATE
(The original of this letter is in the library of Rome. An authenticated copy is in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.)
A young man appeared in Galilee preaching with humble unction, a new law in the Name of the God that had sent Him. At first I was apprehensive that His design was to stir up the people against the Romans, but my fears were soon dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Jews. One day, I observed in the midst of a group of people a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told that his name was Jesus. This I could easily have suspected, so great was the difference between Him and those who were listening to Him. His golden coloured hair and His beard gave to His appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about thirty years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance.
What a contrast between Him and His hearers with their black beards and tawny complexions. Unwilling to interrupt Him by my presence, I continued my walk but signified to my secretary to join the group and listen. Later, my secretary reported that never had he read in the words of all the philosophers, anything that compared to the teachings of Jesus. He told me that Jesus was neither seditious nor rebellious, so we extended to Him our protection. He was at liberty to act, to speak, to assemble, and to address the people. This unlimited freedom provoked the Jews – not the poor but the rich and powerful.
Later, I wrote to Jesus requesting an interview with Him at the Praetorium. He came. When the Nazarene made His appearance I was having a morning walk and as I faced Him my feet seemed fastened with an iron band to the marble pavement and I trembled in every limb, as a guilty culprit, though He was calm. For some time I stood admiring this extraordinary Man. There was nothing in Him that was repelling nor in His character, yet I felt awed in His presence. I told Him that there was a magnetic simplicity about Him and His personality that elevated Him far above the philosophers and teachers of His day. All in all He made a deep impression upon me and everyone because of His kindness, simplicity, humility and love.
Now, Noble Sovereign, these are the facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth and I have taken tirne to write you in detail concerning these matters. I say that such a man who could convert water into wine, change death into life, disease into health, calm the stormy seas, is not guilty of any criminal offence and as others have said, we must agree truly this is the Son of God!
Your most obedient servant,