Skip to content

Skip to secondary menu

Skip to table of contents

Jehovah’s Witnesses

English

The Watchtower  |  January 2009

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

 Did You Know?

Did Pontius Pilate have reason to fear Caesar?

To pressure the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate into executing Jesus, the Jewish leaders said: “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar.” (John 19:12) The “Caesar” mentioned here was Roman Emperor Tiberius. Would Pilate have had any reason to fear this Caesar?

What kind of person was Tiberius Caesar? Years before Jesus’ trial, Tiberius had already become “a man who seemed interested only in his own satisfactions and the increasingly perverse ways to find them,” says The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Paranoia moved him to torture and execute anyone who was even suspected of treason. “If the near-contemporary historians are to be believed,” reports the same reference work, “his favourite entertainments were cruel and obscene. Even under the most favourable interpretation, he killed ferociously and almost at random.”

Therefore, Tiberius’ reputation may well have figured in Pilate’s decision to bow to the pressure from the Jewish leaders and order the execution of Jesus.​—John 19:13-16.

Why did Jesus wash the feet of his apostles?

In ancient Israel, many ordinary people would have gone about their daily business barefoot. Footwear, for those who did use it, consisted of sandals, which were little more than a sole strapped to the foot and ankle. Since roads and fields were dusty or muddy, people’s feet would inevitably get dirty.

It was the custom, therefore, for a person to remove his sandals upon entering a home. Hospitality required that a guest’s feet be washed. This task would be performed either by the householder or by a servant. The Bible contains a number of references to this common practice. For example, Abraham said to visitors to his tent: “Let a little water be taken, please, and you must have your feet washed. Then recline under the tree. And let me get a piece of bread, and refresh your hearts.”​—Genesis 18:4, 5; 24:32; 1 Samuel 25:41; Luke 7:37, 38, 44.

This background information throws light on Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet during his last Passover with them. On that occasion, there was no householder or servant to perform this service, and evidently none of the disciples volunteered to do it. So by taking a basin of water and a towel to wash and dry his apostles’ feet, Jesus gave those men a lesson in love and humility.​—John 13:5-17.