‘THAT INNOCENT MAN’
Lord, you found me when I was far off, and continue to hold me close to you. I love you Lord.
Read MATTHEW 27:11-26
Jesus Before Pilate
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
- Matthew 27:16 Many manuscripts do not have Jesus; also in verse 17.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAs Good Friday draws near, let’s concentrate our attention on Jesus, who ‘For the joy that was set before him … endured the cross, scorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus probably didn’t get much sleep that night, and then it was a dawn start of the next day, the day of his death. After an early morning strategy meeting (Matthew 27:1,2), the chief priests ratified the death sentence of the night before, and Jesus was taken for a trial under Roman justice.
Have you ever faced unfair or unjust treatment? Or manipulation, or vested interest? Or public opinion attacking you? Or pressure to ‘confess’ falsely? Or a judge too weak to do the right thing? Or physical assault? The Lord Jesus endured all this.
Jesus’ fate, legally speaking, was in the hands of one man, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate felt trapped. His duty, clearly, was to acquit the innocent, and yet also, to keep the peace. He knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges made against him (vs 19,23), but also that he (Pilate) had been outmaneuvered by the high priests (v 18) and a riot might start. The crowd had turned against Jesus of Nazareth. Shouts of ‘Crucify! Crucify!’ echoed in his ears. Pilate washed his hands, trying to evade blame. Jesus watched and, after hearing his sentence, was taken away. The cross before him, no turning back.
‘O make me understand it, / help me to take it in; / what it meant to thee, the Holy One, / to take away my sin.’* In what ways does this prayer speak to you?
Merciful Father, I see today the power of the crowd and the pressure to conform. Infuse me with your strength to stand firm for you in a conforming world.
*‘Give me a Sight O Savior’, Katherine Agnes May Kelly (1869–1942)
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