All the descriptions we have of the Good Shepherd in Scripture and in Christian literature tend to portray Him as a quiet unassuming person whom no one needed to fear. Hence, we wonder why Pilate became terrified of the Jewish peasant Who appeared before him that early morning. It was clear that the prisoner was hated by His accusers, and they would not be satisfied with anything less than His death.
When the Jewish leaders first brought Jesus before Pilate demanding he crucify Him, Pilate showed a rather indifferent attitude toward Jesus and tried to dismiss the crowd, including Jesus (John 18:31). However, the Jewish leaders were persistent and so Pilate sought to engage Jesus in conversation to learn His side of the narrative. Jesus remained silent and His silence amazed Pilate (Matt. 27:14).
When Pilate learned Jesus was a Galilean he sent Jesus to Herod, the ruler of that district, as Herod was in Jerusalem at the time (Luke 23:6-12). Herod could not understand why the Jews wanted Jesus executed either and sent Him back to Pilate with the message that Jesus was not a criminal (Luke 23:14-15).
Then the Jews dropped a bomb on Pilate, they told him that Jesus claimed to be God (John 18:6-8). That caused Pilate to think Jesus may have been a god and he had treated Jesus in a despicable manner. Pilate thought he might incur the wrath of Jesus in response for his shoddy treatment. From then on it was all downhill for Pilate.
How do you treat Jesus? Some people treat Him like a celestial Santa Claus, calling out to Him for help when some need arises. But ignoring Him the rest of the time. The proper way to treat Jesus is the same as doubting Thomas did when he first saw the resurrected Christ. Thomas confessed Jesus as his Lord and God (John 20:26-28).
There is nothing to fear if we acknowledge Jesus as the resurrected One and confess Him as our Lord.
But if we do not make such a confession, we do well to be terrified of Him because He will come again to judge us all. If we have not confessed Him as Lord, we shall do so on bended knee before being dismissed from His presence for all eternity.
“But what does it say?
‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—
that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness,
and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Romans 10:8-10 (NASB)