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2020 Lent devotion #31 – “I am innocent of this man’s blood”

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (Matthew 27:24)

It’s a mob scene. The governor, Pilate, has given the crowd a choice of two prisoners to release. He would either set Barabbas or Jesus free that day. The crowd, prompted by the chief priests and elders, ask for Barabbas to be freed. Pilate then asks, “And what should I do with Jesus?” The crowds demands that he be crucified. When Pilate asks, “Why?” the crowd is even more stirred up, demanding his crucifixion. 

All the ingredients for a riot are in place. But Pilate is not about to take the blame for executing someone he knows doesn’t deserve it. In front of them all, he literally and symbolically washes his hands of the whole affair. He declares himself off the hook for Jesus’ death. “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”

You and I have been there. We’ve thrown up our hands and declared, “I had nothing to do with that.” We weren’t there. We had no knowledge of what was going on. We are off the hook. 

When it comes to Jesus, though, it’s not that simple. Since he died in our place for our sins, we are not innocent. We are the reason he came, suffered, died and was buried. We have everything to do with his death! 

It’s humbling, but it’s also reassuring. Jesus doesn’t wash his hands and renounce us. We don’t wash our hands and renounce him. Instead, in the waters of baptism, we are joined with both his death and resurrection. By grace, we are a part of all that happened to him, and he is a part of everything that happens to us. 

Thank you, Lord, for being a part of my life yesterday, today, and forever. Amen. 

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