Matthew 27:11 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 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.
Big Idea: When we act as judges, we crucify Christ
Jesus is finally brought before Pilate, the governor. He was accused by the chief priests and leaders in front of the governor. But unlike the night before, which was more of a kangaroo court than an impartial jury, this one really was, at least nominally closer to what we think of in a modern trial. Pilate had given Jesus the opportunity to defend himself but he was keeping silent.
So Pilate, knowing that Jesus was only being tried of local political reasons offered the crowd of onlookers the choice of which prisoner to release, Barabbas, or Jesus. The crowd, stoked by the chief priests and leaders had turned into a lynch mob. So they demanded the release of Barabbas, a man who was actually guilty, rather than Jesus.
Pilate, in an effort to shift the responsibility for killing an innocent man, washed his hands of the whole thing, and blamed Jesus’ death on the crowd. The crowd, in their frenzy, gladly accepted it!
Application: Jesus was not sent by God, to become a man, and live a perfect life in order to judge us. Jesus was sent to save us from God’s judgment. And yet, we who are guilty, and who have been spared God’s righteous justice, are quick to judge. The crowd, which had been proclaiming Christ’s praises at the beginning of the week, was demanding his blood now. The priests and pharisees, in an obvious attempt to spare their own vanity, had falsely convicted him and turned him over to the governor. The governor, who actually should have been an impartial judge, was willing to set aside his integrity just to smooth things over with the people.
None of that is our business. We are in the business of saving people. We were redeemed and made pure, not to act as God’s right hand of justice, but to build the kingdom, to spread the Good News of God’s forgiveness. Condemning someone for what we don’t like about them, isn’t going to bring them any closer to the cross. Jesus could have explained himself when he was in front of Pilate. He even could have laid bare every sin each of the priests had ever committed. But he kept silent. Today’s let’s be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger… and show the same love and patience that Jesus shows us!