November 12 (Daily reading: Matthew 27; Mark 15) Pilate’s actions during Jesus’s trial leaves us with some impressions. Pilate asked a question that every person must ask: “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Mt. 27:22). He admitted that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death, but he did not want to personally accept the responsibility of deciding. According to John and Luke’s account, Pilate said to Jesus’s accusers: “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him” (Jn. 18:30). He then tried to hand off the decision to Herod (Lk. 23:7). But every person on the earth must personally answer the question: “What will I do with Jesus?”
Pilate tried to evade making a decision by replacing Jesus. There was a custom of releasing a prisoner during the Feast of Passover, so he brought out Barabbas, a notorious criminal. Pilate probably thought it would be an easy choice, but he ended up making a compromise. “Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them” (Mk. 15:15). The existence of many manmade religions in our world is proof of the efforts of humanity to replace Jesus. Pilate compromised himself even further by punishing Jesus before handing Him over (Mt. 27:26). If Jesus was innocent, why should He be punished?
Pilate lacked the courage of his convictions. John wrote that three times, Pilate said, “I find no guilt in Him” (Jn. 18:38; 19:4, 6). In the end, he washed his hands, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood” (Mt. 27:24). He did not recognize that it was not Jesus’s guilt that was in question, but his own! We are all guilty of the shed blood of Jesus. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:8-9).
– Al Gary