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.
God’s Word speaks into every period of history and area of our world. May I find its power more effective today.
Most people before a judge would have their case well worked out, ready to answer the charges against them. An innocent person, especially, would have prepared a cast-iron rebuttal. Yet, Jesus again says nothing. Even Pilate is surprised, urging him, without success, to make some response. Pilate, however, was unlikely to be familiar with Isaiah 53:7 or its significance in his court: ‘he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.’ Here, surely, was the one of whom the prophet spoke.
Pilate was impressed by the integrity conveyed in Jesus’ calmness and authority. Having seen many revolutionaries, Pilate knew that Jesus was not one. He also knew he was being used by the Jewish religious elite to get rid of someone who made them uncomfortable. The festival custom of prisoner-release provided the clear answer. The crowd would make the obvious choice between this Jesus Messiah and the violent brutal criminal Jesus Barabbas. When the crowd refused Jesus’ release, Pilate simply gave in. In allowing them to pronounce a sentence of death, he simply abdicated all responsibility.
Washing his hands of the matter did not absolve Pilate from the injustice of his actions. None of us can walk away from the responsibilities that are ours, for God will hold us accountable even if worldly systems don’t. Injustice today thrives through dereliction of duty by those who should judge impartially. Pilate retained responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion, even though he handed it to the crowd. We, too, remain answerable, as Christian neighbors or citizens, for the level of injustice we ignore or encourage.
Let us pray for more people of integrity, truth, and Christian wisdom to lead our nations today.
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.
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