Claudia’s Dream

“[Pilate] knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered Him up. 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 over Him today in a dream.’” (Matthew 27:18)

How would the apostles know the name of Pontius Pilate’s wife that tradition has named Claudia? Why would they care to know the spouse of the executor of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ? Why would she be mentioned in the gospels at all, if it were not for her dream, and how would the faithful learn about it unless she was one of them? And what a strange dream it was, unlike those of both Biblical Josephs: The son of Jacob imprisoned in Egypt, and Joseph, the spouse of the Theotokos and the mother of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember Joseph in pharaoh’s prison, interpreting the dreams of his fellow prisoners [Genesis 40], and that of pharaoh’s own dream [Genesis 41]. Recall the visit of the angel to Joseph the betrothed of Mary several times. Recall Daniel the prophet disclosing the dream of Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 4:18-27].

Not unlike many husbands who ignore advice from a wife, Pilate disregarded the warning of Claudia. What if he had mulled over her words? But he wasn’t the type. His was a rational mind. He wasn’t in touch with his inner self. Dreams and premonitions merely muddy the clarity of logic. He could be called a typical male; however, it’s not a conflict between mind and heart—certainly not between men and women, although there may be something to the theory that women’s nature is closer in touch with the earth, and with life itself. Or is it that men tend to ignore the instincts that even animals retain?

Recall Phuket and Indonesia several years ago when the awesome tsunami walloped the coastline and took many lives. The people reflected that the animals prior to the waves fled to the highlands. What did they sense or feel that escaped the awareness of the humans? Our dreams are God’s way of giving us opportunities to sort out the tangled knots of events, have another look at them, and analyze how things happened and ways we might have reacted at the time.

How did Claudia come in touch with the Lord Jesus? Protected in the Antonia fortress from danger, she may have heard about His odd entry into Jerusalem across the Kidron valley, but as a Roman she neither identified with nor understood the Jewish problem. Was she one of the gentiles fascinated with the faith of the people of the land? Had she a Hebrew servant who could pique her curiosity, enlightening her about the hope Jews had that the Galilean might be their long-awaited messiah? One account identifies her as a Roman convert to Christianity.

Pilate’s dilemma: Troubled by his wife’s dream, annoyed by the chief priests and officers of the Jews clamoring for Christ’s crucifixion, realizing their rage had nothing to do with Roman law, exemplifies the plight of fallen humanity cut off from communion with God. What is the only right decision for him to make? Put another way, where is truth to be found? Or expressed as he did to the only “Way, Truth and Life,” he asked the One who knows, the One who is Truth. Jesus told Pilate: “I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” [John 18:37] The subtle evangelist John shows us that Pilate was not one among those of the truth. For him truth is expediency—what one wants to make of it. In contemporary terms, whatever is politically correct: Rhetoric presented as opinion to sway the naïve masses. The Son and Word of God came to earth to steer mankind away from self-will to will, to find and obey the will of His Father, as He desired of Adam before the decision that turned God’s will into self-will and unity to estrangement.