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!”
Pilate made quite the dramatic statement in this confrontational Passion scene. The mob was riled up, tempers flared . . . and Pilate backed off. He wasn't about to muddy himself with involvement. He wanted no part in this controversial mess. Call it the great pass off. This Jesus was somebody else’s problem.
Is it possible the adage, I wash my hands of the situation, was birthed in this moment?
But isn’t passing the buck a common trait? (Or is it better classified as a temptation?)
Several factors brought Pilate to display this disdain. He found no culpability in Jesus. He sensed the basis for the charges against Jesus was grounded purely in envy (Mt 27:18). Added to the mayhem, he had the warning from his wife not to charge this innocent man (Mt 27:19). He gambled that the crowds would choose to have Jesus released. So, Pilate passed off. Let someone else take responsibility for the outcome—I’m innocent.
There were times when I didn’t want to take responsibility where Jesus was concerned. I wasn’t about to take the blame for wielding the hammer . . . driving those nails. It was more comfortable to deny my part in putting Him up on that cross. I guess there’s a little bit of Pilate in all of us.
Pilate attempted to relieve himself of any wrongdoing by his words, but his actions spoke louder, for he handed him over to be crucified.
This Easter don’t wash your hands of Jesus. When conflict battles within and you’re confronted with a choice regarding the Christ of God, don’t pass Him off. Set Him fee with truth. Remember to choose Him every time.
Forgive me, Father, for the times I’ve washed my hands of Jesus, my Lord.