Guilty Hands – Matthew 27:15-26

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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While living in the dorms during my college years, one night a good-natured pillow fight broke out. It began when the one below me swatted me several times with a towel. My response was to reach for a bottle of Chloraseptic and thoroughly spray him down. He proceeded to drag my mattress, and me, to the floor. Then mayhem broke out. We’d been in trouble before, so I quickly put my mattress back on the frame, crawled in bed, and faced the wall, as if asleep. Momentarily, the door burst open with the dorm supervisor sending the rest of my roommates to the dean’s office. I continued facing the wall, as if asleep and innocent, but I was neither.

It is true that Pilate sought to set the Lord Jesus Christ free, rather than have Him crucified, but he was not guiltless. After questioning the Savior, he announced to the Jews, “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4); he even calls Christ “this just person” (Matthew 27:24). Luke 23:20 documents he was “willing to release Jesus.” Peter says that Pilate was “determined to let Him go” (Acts 3:13). But he did not do so. Instead, he succumbed to the will of the mob. When he “saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult [an uproar or disturbance] was made” (Matthew 27:24), he delivered up our Lord to be scourged savagely, beaten, and crucified by the soldiers. As the supreme governmental authority in this region, Pilate’s primary duty was to see justice was always done when a subject was brought before him. He had the moral obligation to release anyone who was innocent, regardless of public opinion, and he had ample military forces to put down any unrest. It was a profound miscarriage of justice. Pilate tried to absolve himself of responsibility when he “took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person” (Matthew 27:4). But God did not hold him guiltless. Shortly before our Lord’s death, He explained to Pilate, “He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Israel was the primary guilty party, but Pilate was also guilty by association and by his refusal to stop this wrongdoing.

Each of us does well to realize we are guilty before the Lord when passively going along with sinful actions, even when we are not the primary instigator. Instead, we must oppose and stop wrongdoing when possible.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."