God Speaks to Women Today
by Eugenia Price

This New York Times' bestselling author brings practical and insightful messages from the Bible to women of all ages. Drawing on the lessons learned by several female figures, Price offers experienced solutions to the issues facing women today. As timely as ever, now in its 55th printing. (Alibris, 6/3/2005)

Chapter 20


A Woman Who Lacked Influence

Claudia Procula, the wife of Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, lived for most of the year at the governor’s luxurious palace to the north of Caesarea Philippi on the sea. Each year, however, she came with Pilate to Jerusalem where he would be needed to see that order prevailed among the thousands of Jews who streamed into the Holy City for the Feast of the Passover. In Jerusalem, Claudia and Pilate stayed at the lavishly furnished Herodian Palace, and lying on her wide, silk-covered bed on the night before the Feast Day, Claudia had a dream.

There was unusual confusion in the dark streets of the Holy City that night, confusion that tore at her very soul, but about which she could tell no one. Certainly not Pilate. The last two trips to Jerusalem had been strangely meaningful for Claudia, and this year she had come with a deep sense of urgency to get there - perhaps actually to see Him again. The wide windows of the Herodian Palace opened out above the crowded city, and once two years ago, she had seen Him healing a lame man, and last year she had seen Him twice, talking earnestly to a crowd and then stopping on one of the narrow, cluttered streets to help an old beggar to his feet. Who was this Man? Claudia questioned her servants, and bit by bit she learned that He was an itinerant preacher from Galilee, who spoke as no other man had ever spoken, and who never grew too weary to be of the smallest service to the most insignificant man or woman.

Through the years between those visits to Jerusalem, Claudia had thought about Him often, and with every thought, her heart seemed to open - toward what she did not know.

Now she was back in Jerusalem, and from the servants she had learned that His life was in danger. Those troublesome priests at the Jewish Temple wanted Him out of the way, but because of their stupid laws about not killing a man, they were attempting to trick her husband, Pilate, into taking the action himself.

Claudia slept little that night, her thoughts disturbed and tormented by His trouble. She had never spoken to Him, but she buried her eyes in her pillows attempting to shut out even her thoughts of what might be happening to Him as they jerked Him with ropes through the ancient streets from before her husband, sitting pompously on the Judgment Seat on the balcony of the Tower of Antonia, to that half-drunken Herod and back again. Claudia had heard, at least, of the God of Israel, and her heart cried to Him to help this good Man, Jesus. Then she sat up laughing at herself. How would the God of those wicked priests help a good Man like the Master? And yet, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew also. Her thoughts careened and twisted from half-uttered prayers to a God whose name she did not know, to self-accusation for allowing her sleep to be interrupted by a mere uprising among the people of the streets! At last she slept a little, just long enough to dream the dream that brought her out of her bed, only half awake, but driven to do something to stop the injustice she now knew was about to take place.

Quickly she penned a note to Pilate and dispatched it at once to be delivered to him personally as he sat on the Seat of Judgment before the howling mob. Claudia threw open her window that faced the Tower of Antonia. She could see the torch lights, ugly and red against the night sky. The shouts of the angry mob came and went, and during the lulls she supposed Pilate was speaking to them. Hurry! her thoughts urged the messenger on his way though the crowded streets. Hurry! Oh, please hurry before it is too late!

On his Judgment Seat above the crowd, Pilate sat uneasily; the Man Jesus, swaying and injured, stood beside him. Desperately, Pilate shouted to the crowd: “Whom shall I release to you - Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ?”

Their answer shocked him.

“Barabbas! Release Barabbas to us!”

Pilate slumped in his ornate chair, debating uncertainly what he would do next. An attendant handed him a note in his wife’s own handwriting. He unfolded it quickly, irritated with Claudia for bothering him at a moment like this. The note read: “Do nothing, I beg you, to that innocent Man, for I was deeply affected this morning while dreaming about Him!”

For an instant Pilate longed to pay attention to his wile. Caught as he was between the howling mob backed by the priests of the Temple, and his own ambition toward Rome to keep order at any cost, he would have grabbed at an easy way out. Instead he crumpled the note: “What does my foolish wife know of such things?” Jumping suddenly to his feet, as annoyed with his own helplessness as with the mob and Claudia, he shouted, for want of anything new to say: “What shall I do then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?”

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let Him be crucified!”

In the end, Pilate gave in to the angered crowd, but before he ordered the crucifixion, he washed his hands of the deed before the people themselves, crying: “I am innocent of this good Man’s blood. It is your concern!”

Claudia’s note had disturbed him, but not enough to stir Pilate to sufficient courage against the people of Jerusalem.

There are those who believe Claudia may have been a secret believer in Jesus. Perhaps she was. Certainly she had been convinced in her heart that He was a good Man, not worthy of execution, harming no one, only blessing all those who came in contact with Him.

Claudia did a courageous and daring thing, sending her plea for His life to Pilate in that tense moment. But, her good act was weakened because, if she was a believer, she had kept it such a secret, her plea lacked influence with her husband.

Evidently Pilate had never heard anything definite about Jesus until that night. The whole incident was new and troublesome and difficult for him. Had Claudia begun sharing her feelings about this Man before that night, she might have prevailed upon her husband. But she had not, and her note came only as an annoying surprise, for which he was not prepared.

Our defense of Christianity today can be weakened in exactly the same way, if we keep our faith a secret. When, in some sudden emergency, we reveal it to those who have heard little of Him, how can we expect them to listen to us? How can we expect them not to be annoyed, not to turn away, ignoring our urgency? For that matter, if we have not openly pursued our walk with Christ, how can we expect our own inner strength to be great enough for the times of sudden tension and tragedy? Claudia made a last desperate effort to defend Him, but her influence was not great enough. Her interest in this Man was all news to her husband, and being Pilate, he could not have been expected to pay much attention to this last minute effort on the part of his well-meaning but ineffectual wife.

Close this window and return to "THE EASTER OF CLAUDIA"

This page last updated on 6-11-2005.