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Pilate Washing His Hands



Pilate Wanted to Wash His Hands of It

Happy Father's Day! Phil reminds us to praise and thank God as our great Abba Father.

If you were to name just one evil, wicked, mean-spirited and nasty villain from out of history, you might be likely to choose Pontius Pilate. Everyone remembers that Pontius Pilate was the Roman ruler who sent Christ to his death by crucifixion, but what other intriguing facts do we know about this man? Pontius Pilate was the fifth Roman procurator of Judea, serving from A.D. 26 to 36. As procurator during those years, he allowed the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. An understanding of Pilate's background helps bring to life his role in that pivotal event.

Little is known of Pilate's early life. He was born in Seville, Spain, but switched allegiance to the Romans after they conquered his mother country. Seeking his fortune in Rome, Pilate married 15-year-old Claudia, the youngest daughter of Julia. (Julia was Augustus Caesar's only child and she was the second wife of Tiberius Caesar, who was the Roman emperor at the time of Christ's trial.) Because Claudia was the granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, Pilate hoped his marriage to her would result in an imperial appointment. This ambition was fulfilled when, as a wedding gift, Tiberius presented Pilate with a commission as procurator of Judea.

Pilate's new commission probably left him somewhat disappointed, since Judea was not a prestigious appointment. It was simply a way for Tiberius to remove Pilate and Claudia as far from Rome as possible, because he was not overly fond of them. If you look at a map, you will see that in the Roman Empire, Judea was about as far away from Rome as any area in the Empire.

Although not prestigious, filling the role of procurator of Judea was no easy task. Prior to Pilate, Roman procurators had been careful not to offend the Jews. This courtesy included avoiding any public display of Roman flags and emblems. When Pilate took office, he lacked the political savvy to continue that practice of discretion. He was not careful to accommodate the Jews. He entered Jerusalem with standards emblazoned with the images of the Emperor Tiberius, making his job as procurator more difficult than it had been for his predecessors.

Pilate's arrogance offended and infuriated the Jews. Their second commandment dictated against worldly images, and they were wroth to witness Pilate's flagrant display of contempt for their Holy City. For five days they petitioned him to remove the offensive standards, but he refused to hear their arguments, let alone consider them. When Pilate finally admitted the Jews to the judgment seat to be officially heard, he ordered his soldiers to surround them, and then he threatened them with instant death if they did not stop bothering him over the matter. The citizens of Jerusalem called his bluff. In open defiance, the outraged Jews threw themselves to the ground and bared their necks for the Roman swords, preferring to die rather than submit to the violation of their sacred laws. Outmaneuvered and outclassed — and not willing to kill so many — Pilate yielded and withdrew the standards. This political blunder at the beginning of his appointment highlighted his lack of talent and discretion. This one act embarrassed him and had a residual influence on all the actions of his subsequent career.

Having learned little, Pilate later appropriated funds from the temple treasury and used them to complete an aqueduct that was to bring water to Jerusalem. Because the Jews reverenced the corban , or temple money, they were highly offended that their sacred funds had been used for this worldly purpose. Once again, Pilate faced a crowd of Jews, gathered in clamor against him. But this time Pilate did not ignore them for days or threaten their death. Instead, he ordered soldiers to disguise themselves as Jews and mingle with the crowd. On his signal, the soldiers attacked the unarmed Jews, beating them severely and quelling the riot. As one might expect, hatred for Pilate grew and festered in the hearts of his subjects.

In a further attempt to establish his authority, Pilate later adorned his palace with gilded shields dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius. Outraged, the Jewish leaders circumvented their enemy-leader, petitioning directly to Tiberius, stating that the shields were hung less for his honor than for the annoyance of the Jewish people. Tiberius granted their request, ordering the removal of the shields from the palace in Jerusalem. Pilate had these images transferred to the temple of Augustus at Caesarea.

This Pilate is the man who, after the trials by the Jewish leaders, represented Rome in the final judgment of Jesus Christ. The Great Sanhedrin, all too quickly after its deliberations arose, ". bound him [Jesus] . and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."

In an outward display of piety on this feast day, the members of the Sanhedrin ". went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled . " (John 18:28) Considering that the entire 24-hour period surrounding Gethsemane and Golgotha was replete with the Sanhedrin's cruelties, lies, illegalities, and even murder, it seems absurd that it now feared defilement and its consequence — being denied the Passover feast. That moment of waiting outside the judgment hall was laden with irony.

Pilate held court concerning Christ. He made his findings and had rendered his judgment, and, thus, the final part of the Roman trial — the Decision — had concluded. Or should have. Since Pilate was the extension of Tiberius Caesar, his authority was absolute. When Pilate rose and pronounced the verdict, "I find in him no fault at all," it was an acquittal. Christ should have been let free. Case closed. Over. Done. Finished. Any future proceedings on those same charges would be illegal — as in trying a man twice for the same offense. Pilate would go on to send Jesus to Herod, try to use Barabbas and the tradition of releasing a prisoner at the feast, and have Jesus' scourged. These were all attempts to disassociate himself from Jesus' crucifixion.

However, when Pilate saw that strict justice for Christ would threaten his position, he reluctantly and shamefully gave way to the demands of the Jews, sending Jesus to his death on the cross by washing his hands of the matter. Pilate should have followed his first inclinations and dismissed the case, but was not strong enough to carry out the correct decision. Jesus' illegal trials (Roman and Hebrew) opened for all mankind the precious gifts of mercy and fairness.

After this life in which we all experience moments of great sorrow and unfairness, we will each be judged by Christ — the same Christ who suffered all things with us and who knows and understands our hearts and desires. And without exception, for at least that one moment in our lives, we can all count upon perfect fairness. Christ's judgment of us will be fair , unbiased, just. And as we kneel before him and observe the marks on his feet, we will all realize that our very salvation was made possible because of the illegal , unfair trial that Christ — our Lord and Savior, the Redeemer of all mankind — endured in Judea at the hands of Pontius Pilate.

" Pilate Wanted to Wash His Hands of It " by Steven W. Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Heartlight encourages you to share this material with others in church bulletins, personal emails, and other non-commercial uses. Please see our Usage Guidelines for more information.

About the Author

Steven W. Allen is a lawyer, an author and a popular speaker. He practices law in Mesa, Ariz., where he resides with his wife, Linda. They have five wonderful children and 8 grandchildren. He is also a student of the scriptures and his background in the law brought him to a study of the most famous trial in history, the trial of Christ. His series of classes on this subject led to his recently released book, "The Illegal Trial of Christ."


Trouble In The Air

Now it is the Passover season and Pontius Pilate is in Jerusalem. No doubt he is staying in Herod’s Palace. Herod is in town, too, even though technically this is not his area. So is Annas, the old high priest, and Caiaphas, the current high priest. So are thousands of Jewish pilgrims who have come from all parts of Israel. Someone else is in town. Jesus is here with his disciples. All the players are assembled. The final drama has begun.

Exactly how much Pilate knew about Jesus is a question we cannot answer for certain. But we can assume he knew something. After all, that’s a governor’s job. He must have known of Jesus’ popularity with the people. He must have known that the chief priests and scribes had no use for him. He must have heard the rumors flying across the countryside. It is the job of a politician to know these things and, as we shall see, Pilate was a smart politician. He always knew which way the wind was blowing.


Pilate’s precarious position

As per John 19:12, Pilate found himself in the precarious position of pronouncing a judgment on a man with whom he cannot find any fault.

Worse, if he refuses to comply with the demands of the crowd, he would be judged as a traitor since anyone who claims to be a King of Jews would betray Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor.

Claiming the title of King by anyone except Tiberius was considered an act of treason by the Roman government. The crowd’s position was clear, either Pilat executes Jesus or he is no friend of Caesar's.

Pilate gives in to the mob and orders that Jesus be crucified.

Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd before announcing, “I am innocent of this man’s blood see to it yourselves.”

The mob shouts in response, “His blood be on us and our children.”


If you have made a difficult decision and want to stick to it, go and wash your hands.

A study has revealed that hand washing, long associated with absolving the mind of guilt, can also erase any doubts about everyday choices.

The latest research, reported in the journal Science, looked at whether the phenomenon extends to decisions with little or no moral implications by asking a set of volunteers to pick between two CDs or two jams.

Scientists found the 40 volunteers were less likely to try to justify their choice if they washed their hands just after making it.

Pontius Pilate: Washed his hands after condemning Jesus in the Bible

University of Michigan researcher Spike Lee said that hand washing appears to erase doubts, 'wiping the slate clean'.

He added: 'When people make decisions, they are often faced with choosing between two very attractive options.

'Let's say they are choosing a vacation spot - Paris or Rome. After choosing, let's say, Paris, they justify their choice by thinking to themselves it is the right one because French cuisine is better and the art museums are fantastic.

They are justifying their choice by focusing on the positive features.

'What our study showed was that after people washed their hands they no longer felt they had to justify their choice.

Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth (here Helen Baxendale) attempted to wash away her guilt after committing murder

'They had washed away the compulsion to justify the choice they had made.' The researchers added: 'It's not just that washing your hands contributes to moral cleanliness as well as physical cleanliness.

'Our studies show that washing also reduces the influence of past behaviours and decisions that have no moral implications whatsoever.'

Previous research by the team has established a link between washing hands and the absolving of guilt. The idea that it is possible to wash away our sins is deep rooted in many cultures and religions, including Christianity.

Water is a cornerstone of baptism ceremonies and, in the Bible, Pontius Pilate washed his hands after condemning Jesus to death.

Shakespeare also subscribed to the idea, making Lady Macbeth attempt to wash away her guilt of plotting King Duncan's murder.

But it took scientists until 2006 to show that the theory holds water.

A team at the University of Toronto asked volunteers to either dwell on something they were ashamed of having done or think happy thoughts. They were then asked to play a word game and given a choice of a free gift.

Those recalling an unethical deed were more likely to pick the words 'soap' and 'shower' in the word game. Similarly, guilty thoughts led to an antiseptic wipe proving more popular as a gift than a pencil.

The research team concluded that the areas of the brain that deal with physical cleanliness likely overlap with those that process psychological purity.


Was Pilate released from his guilt of crucifying Jesus by washing his hands?

Pilate repeatedly declared Jesus’ innocence: “I find no fault in Him at all” (John 18:38 John 19:4) for he knew that the Jews had accused Him through hatred and malice and that his duty was to release Jesus. But instead of doing that which is right, he wavered and tried several attempts to evade his responsibility in administering justice.

First, Pilate tried to convince the Jews to deal with the case themselves – applying their own law (John 18:31). Second, he sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:7). Third, he tried to release Jesus as the pardoned Passover prisoner (John 18:39). Fourth, he scourged Jesus hoping that this action would appease the Jewish religious leaders and thus save Jesus from the death penalty (Luke 23:22).

Pilate was willing to sacrifice justice and principle in order to compromise with the Jewish leaders. If at first Pilate had stood firm, refusing to judge an innocent man, he would have been freed from the guilt of sentencing Jesus to death. This guilt haunted his life. Had he followed his conscience, Jesus would have eventually been put to death, but the guilt would not have rested upon him.

Pilate’s weakness empowered the Jews even more for they realized that if they push further they would succeed. They threatened him saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (John 19:12). Their threat was hypocritical. The Jewish leaders were the most bitter enemies to Rome and yet they pretended to be zealous for Caesar’s honor.

God Himself warned Pilate to stand for the truth through a message that his wife sent him saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just Man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19). Pilate was already convinced of the innocence of Jesus, and the warning from his wife provided him with divine affirmation.

“Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it'” (Matthew 27:24). This symbolic washing of hands didn’t erase Pilate’s responsibility in sentencing the innocent Jesus to death. History tells us that five years later, he was deposed of his position and soon thereafter he committed suicide (Josephus Antiquities xviii. 3. 2 4. 1, 2).


Tables Turned

The tables were turned. Now it was Pilate who was worried. If this Jesus of Nazareth were indeed a divine being, then it would be very dangerous to punish him and incur the wrath of the gods. In Roman theology, it was believed that the gods had many sons on the earth (it being typical of a girl pregnant out of wedlock to say that the father of her baby was one of the gods) With his wife’s ominous dream still in mind, Pilate retired for another interrogation session

Whether Pilate became convinced of Jesus’ divinity or not is unclear in the text. He did learn, nevertheless, that Jesus was resigned to the fact that he would die, and his words may have given Pilate reason to believe that God so desired it. All we know is that “from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him,” perhaps for fear of divine punishment (John 19:9-12).

The contest between Prefect and priests continued as the latter “cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar” (John 19:12). “When Pilate therefore heard that saying,” he realized how he could win this game. Bringing Jesus out again, he sat down and “he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king!” They protested and called for crucifixion. “Shall I crucify your king?” asked Pilate. There was but one possible reply at this point. “The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:13-15).

Pilate must have been proud of his achievement. He had elicited from the “chief priests,” who, before Roman times, had ruled as kings of the Jews for a century, [12] the admission that the Jews were subservient to the Roman emperor. The game over-and won-Pilate lost no time in commissioning a unit of soldiers to crucify Jesus. What was the blood of another Jew to a man who had slain so many of them?

In a final stroke of irony, Pilate ordered that Jesus’ “accusation” read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19-21). He could now claim to have put down an insurrection led by a king who had not received his appointment from Caesar and the Senate.


Pilate Washing His Hands

" Pilate . . . took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. "—matt, xxvii. 24.

ILATE'S motives in surrendering Jesus to death were as plain as they were paltry. He had no fear that any danger to Rome would result from Christ. The characteristic Roman contempt for ideas and ideals which speaks in his cynical question, " What is truth ?" led him to look with a kind of almost amused pity at a man whom he thought of as a mere harmless enthusiast. He knew his subjects too well to suppose that they would have been so eager to surrender an effective leader of revolt, and he detected the personal "malice" which lay behind their newborn and suspicious loyalty. Then personal motives came in. He feared being accused at Rome. And so, for his own security, he stifled his conscience, resisted his wife's warnings, and gave up Jesus to their will. The death of one Jew was a trifle if he could keep his ticklish charge in good-humour. That was his sin. He knew that Christ's death would be murder. He knew that he was art and part in it. And yet he took the basin and washed his hands before the howling mob. In vain !" All the perfumes of Araby could not whiten that hand," and his impotent effort to cast off responsibility only witnessed to his consciousness of it.

So this saying of his and his deed may suggest to us some wholesome thoughts.

I.—The first point to notice is the vain plea for wrongdoing.

Pilate excused himself to himself on the ground that policy and self-defence forced him to his act. He could say " I am innocent" because he said, " I am obliged to connive at this crime." Though in his case the plea is for a gigantic sin, and in our cases it may be for a comparatively small one, the same sort of thing is being said by us continually. Nothing is more common than for a man to say to himself, " Well, I am very sorry, I could not help myself. I was forced into it by the exigencies of my position. Circumstances required it. This, that, and the other desirable thing, as it seems to me, could not be got without a little straining of what is right, and a little yielding to the force of men or things round about me. And so it is really the cruel circumstances in which I was placed, far more than myself, that ought to be condemned as responsible for this deed of mine."

Well, now, dear friends, it is a very plain and threadbare and commonplace piece of morality, but it needs to be reiterated over and over again—there is nothing necessary for a man, which he can only get or keep by tampering with conscience. There are two things needful for us: God and righteousness and there is no third. With these we have what we need without them, we have not. And nothing is worth the buying for which we have to part with absolute adherence to the law of right.

You remember the quaint story of the man in the dock who said to the judge, "It is necessary that should live," and was answered, "I do not see the necessity." No, there is not a necessity for living, if we have to sin in order to live. It is better to die. The one thing needful is "to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever." And so Necessity, which is sometimes said to be "the tyrant's plea," is the coward's plea as well and the weakling's plea.

And in another way, the pleading of compulsion from without, as an excuse for evil, is evidently vain because no man and no thing can force us to do wrong. We know, in each specific case, that, however strong the temptation may have been, we could have resisted it if we would, and that therefore the yielding to it was our act and ours only.

Therefore let no man say, "I had to yield to popular clamour. I was overborne by the rush of general opinion. Everybody else thought so, and, therefore, I had to say so." That is the crying sin that besets public men and aspirants after public positions, in a democratic country like ours. And this last fortnight* has let us see, in many places, examples of it, of men paltering with convictions, and stretching to the breaking point their conceptions of right, because they thought that they would gain favour thereby. I am not speaking about this man or that man, about this party or that party, but I am taking a modern instance illustrating an ancient saw. Pilate's sin has been committed in England these last few days over

* This sermon was preached after a General Election.

and over again. "The people would have it so and I said it, and I did it."

But it is not only statesmen and politicians and officials and other men who live by the breath of popular favour and appreciation that are in danger from such a shabby excuse as this. It applies to us all. Therefore, let us fix it firmly in our hearts that if once we admit considerations of expediency, or of the pressure of circumstances, or of personal advantage, to modify our conceptions of duty, we have embarked on a voyage on which there is nothing before us but shipwreck.

The compasses on board iron vessels get unreliable, and need to be rectified. If a man once allows the iron mass of popular opinion, or of apparently compelling circumstances, to touch his conscience, then it is deflected from the pole of right. One thing only is to be our guide, and that is the plain, simple dictate of imperative duty, which alone is essential for the blessedness of our lives.

If we want to keep firm to that stern adherence to the loftiest conception of conduct, and to obey duty, and not inclinations or apparent necessity, there is only one effectual way of doing it, and that is to live in close and constant touch with Jesus Christ, who pleased not Himself and to whom nothing was necessary, except that He should do the will of the Father that sent Him, and finish His work.

II.—Then, secondly, notice here the possibility of entire self-deception.

This man had managed to persuade himself, on a very rotten plea, as I have tried to suggest, that he was entirely free from guilt in his act. And the fact that the man who did the most awful of crimes— though perhaps he was not the most guilty—could do it with the profession, to some extent sincere, of innocence, may teach us very solemn lessons.

You can persuade yourself that almost any wrong thing is right, if only you desire to do so. Conscience is no separate faculty dwelling in a man, irrespective of the moral condition of the man, and acting as if it were apart altogether from the rest of him. What we call conscience is only the whole man judging the moral character of his doings. And so its judgments vary according to his whole character. It is no inflexible standard, like the golden measuring-rod of the angel, but a leaden rule which may be bent, curtailed, and tampered with in many different ways. You can lash the helm to one side of the ship, and keep it fast there, if .you like. Will can silence conscience, and say, " Hold your tongue!" and it obeys to a very large extent. Inclination can silence conscience. We all

"Compound for Bins we are inclined to
By damning those we have no mind to."

The rush of passion can silence conscience. A whisper is not audible amidst the roar of Niagara. True, it speaks afterwards and says to us, "Now you shall listen!" But then that is too late. The very stress of daily life tends to weaken the power of pronouncing moral judgment on the things that we are doing. Scientists tell us that aneroid harometers will correspond with mercurial ones a great deal more closely in the observatory than they do on the field or mountain side. So, conscience will coincide with the absolute law of right a great deal more accurately when there is no stress of temptation or of daily work to perturb it. And thus it comes about that it is possible for us to be breathing a poisonous atmosphere, and to have our lungs so habituated to the carbonic acid that we do not know how foal it is, till we get out into purer air and take a deep breath of it. We all have sins altogether unsuspected by ourselves.

Therefore the acquittal of conscience is no sign of the acquittal of God. "I have nothing against myself," said Paul, in reference to his official tasks "yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord." "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." There are plenty of us that do just as Pilate—who condemned himself in saying, " I am innocent of the blood."

Therefore, dear friends, one prime element of all noble living is to have special care to cultivate sensitiveness of conscience beyond its present degree. And how is that to be done? Mainly and chiefly, I believe, by living, as I have already said in reference to another matter, in touch with Jesus Christ. Mainly by having the habit of referring all that we are to the pattern of what we ought to be, which is set forth. in Him. Conscience is not our guide. It is the recorder and repeater of guidance from the Christ, and only in the measure in which it is educated, corrected, enlightened, and made more sensitive by the habit of always thinking of Jesus Christ as our Example, to conform to whom is righteousness, to diverge from whom is sin, shall we come to the condition in which we can at all trust our own conceptions of what

is right or wrong. First and foremost, if we would have a conscience quickened and void of offence, let us live in the light of Christ's face, and take Him as the embodiment of all things lovely and of good report.

The ., again, let us cultivate, far more than the average Christian man of this day does, the habit of careful scrutiny of ourselves. "Know thyself," was the proud saying of the ancient teacher. The only way to know what I am is to notice what I do. And the most of us give very little diligence to a careful examination, apart from passion or inclination, of the moral character of our habitual daily lives. White ants will eat the whole substance out of a bit of furniture, and leave it apparently perfectly sound and solid. I wonder how many of us have had microscopic millions of gnawing evils, working beneath cover, in our characters. As long as the form of godliness is left standing we know not, many of us, that all the inner heart and substance of it is gone. Look after yourselves know yourselves practise the forgotten habit of rigid self-examination, and you will be the less likely to be the fools of a perverted or drugged conscience.

And make sure that when it does speak you listen to its slightest hints. "He that despiseth little things," says one of the Apocryphal books, "shall fall by little and little." The habit of thinking of any of our deeds that they are too small to make it worth while to bring the big artillery to bear upon them, is the ruin of a great many men. There is nothing that so effectually silences the remonstrances of the inward voice as the habit of neglecting it. If you persistently pick the buds off a plant, and do not let it either flower or fruit, you will kill it and if you nip the shoots of conscience by neglecting its warnings, then the plant will, if it does not die, at least, as it were, retreat into its root, and lie there dormant, till—till it is transplanted by Death, and a new climate draws it out into activity.

And so, dear brethren, keep close to Christ cultivate the habit of self-scrutiny obey the faintest voice of conscience and say to God, "Search me and try me, and see if there be any wicked way, and lead me in the way everlasting."

III.—Again, notice how here we get an illustration of the impossibility of wriggling out of responsibility.

It is very interesting to observe how the parties concerned—the conspirators, if I may so say—in this great tragedy try to shuffle the blame off their own shoulders and to place it on others. Did you ever remark that Pilate almost verbally re-echoes the dialogue between Judas and the priests, which had just taken place? The traitor said: "I have betrayed the innocent blood." Pilate said: "The blood of this innocent person." The rulers said: "What is that to us? See thou to it." Pilate gives them back their own word, though he did not know it, and says to them: "See ye to it." And then they defiantly yelled out: "His blood be on us and on our children." So all round, both in the attempt to get rid of, and in the awful willingness to accept, the responsibility of the deed, there is the consciousness expressed that there is a wrong somewhere, and that, whosoever was the doer of it, the consequences of it are fastened upon him for ever.

So we may suggest that well-worn but most wholesome and needful thought, that if there is anything a man's own, of which he cannot get rid, it is the bur• den of responsibility for his acts, and the inheritance of their consequences. Oh, there is nothing more solemn than that awful loneliness in which each soul of man lives, after all companionship, love and sympathy! We stretch out our hands and grasp loved hands, and yet there is a universe between the two that are nearest and most truly one. Islands in a great sea are we all. They tell us that no body is so closely compact but that there are films of air between the atoms of which it is composed, and hence all are more or less elastic. It is a parable of humanity. Each man dwells alone, and the intensest instance of his solitude is his unshared and untransferable and inevitable proprietorship in all that he has done. "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself and if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it." Memory, conscience, position, habits, character—these, if there were no God at all, make it certain that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall shall he also reap." And thus the responsibility of the deed lies only with the doer of it. You cannot shuffle, it off upon your associates. A party of brigands fire at travellers. No man knows whose shot it was that killed, but every man that pulled a trigger bears the guilt of the murder. And so, though we may sin in company, we have to pay for it alone. You cannot establish your innocence by saying, like Adam, "The woman gave it to me and I did eat," or, like Aaron, "The people are set on evil: they said unto me, Make us gods which shall go before us," or, like Pilate, "I am innocent, see ye to it." "God will send the bill to you."

IV.—And that brings me, .lastly, to note the contrast between present and future estimates of our acts.

Pilate probably went back to Csesarea after the feast, thinking that he had got well out of what threatened to be an awkward business and in all likelihood he never thought any more, either about that strange Prisoner, or about that stormy session in the Hall of Judgment. That is a great deal more likely to be true than the legends which tell us of his being a prey to perpetual remorse. We have not to measure his guilt. It depends upon his knowledge, and his knowledge was very slight. Perhaps the worse thing that could be said about him was that he did not follow out dim impressions as to the elevation and mystery about his Prisoner and that he connived at what in his heart he knew to be a murder. He was far less guilty than those rulers he was far less guilty than a great many of us are. But, for all that, one cannot help thinking - of the shock of surprise which struck him when he passed beyond life, and ceased to be a governor and a judge, and stood at the bar of the Man whom he had condemned.

Ah! brethren, the same reversal of present and future estimates will come about with many of us. "That fierce light which" flashes from the "throne" will show the seaminess of many a life which looks fairly well by the candle-light of this present. And I pray you to ask yourselves the question, Do you think that you are ready for the revealing sunshine of "the day that shall declare it" ?.

Pilate said, " See ye to it." The mob yelled, "His blood be on us and on our children." Jesus Christ prayed, " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Guilt is not irremovable responsibility can be cancelled. The great blessing, the great mystery, of the Gospel is this, "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And if we will put the burden of our sins upon His shoulders, He will bear it, and bear it away, and lay the light burden of His love upon us.

Only, dear brethren, if we are to share in the power and blessedness of that wondrous Sacrifice for sin, we must take heed that Pilate's words are not upon our lips. They who say " I am innocent" shut themselves out from the worth of the Sacrifice that was made only for the guilty. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to eleanse us from all unrighteousness."


Do You Wash Your Hands like Pilate?

Today, I was contemplating on the text on Pilate washing his hands for responsibility of Jesus’ death. I understand his dilemma: the crowd wanting Jesus dead and Pilate wanting to keep his job while (he and) his wife not finding Jesus guilty. What to do? Whom to serve? And did the hand washing work? Did he get rid of his guilt or not? How about you?

Do you wash your hands like Pilate?

How does that work? I’m afraid washing our hands do not take our responsibility away. Even if our heart hurts but we do or say nothing, we are guilty. Dietrich Bonhoeffer convicts us all with his words “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Are you guilty of trying to was your hands like Pilate, trying to serve many masters? Ouch. I am guilty as charged. What to do then?

How to get rid of guilt?

The only way to freedom of sin is through grace of God. We can’t rid of guilt ourselves, we need Jesus to do that. No matter how much you wash your hands like Pilate for responsibility of Jesus’ death, it is still there. Also, no matter how much you try to cover the multitude of your sins, it does not work. Your sins do not go away by effort. But they do go away by the power of grace. When we repent and ask forgiveness, our sins and our guilt over our sins are lifted. Grace cleanses us of all unrighteousness, all guilt, all wrongdoing. Grace also covers the things we have left undone or unsaid. (But it does not get us off the hook of defending the defenceless, doing the right thing, and following Christ wherever he leads us.)

What about shame?

I hope you recognize that shame and guilt are two different things. Guilt is most often factual, based on the sins we’ve committed. God’s grace is the antidote to guilt. Because when we find forgiveness, we are finally free of guilt. On the other hand, shame is often fictional, based on feelings of inadequacy. God’s love is the antidote for shame. Because when we find our true worth in Christ, we learn to live as shame-free children of God.

But back to Pilate. He thought it was enough to ritually wash his hands for responsibility of Jesus’ death. We might think it is enough to be neutral over the modern disputes. But we are as guilty as the crowd wanting to crucify Jesus. We can’t make ourselves good we can’t save ourselves. But God can. Thankfully, Jesus chose to go to the cross to die for our sins. There’s no sin that grace – God’s aggressive forgiveness – could not win hands down. We can’t, but God can. Hallelujah!

Gracious God,
Forgive us for trying to make ourselves look good outside.
Show us when we try to wash our hands like Pilate.
Forgive us for our silence in the face of evil,
no matter how insignificant it may seem to us.
Embolden us, Lord!
Show us your heart in the matters.
Help us not to listen to the crowds.
We want to serve only you, Lord.
Make it so!
Also, cleanse us from all unrighteousness
and help us to see others and ourselves with your eyes.
Pour out grace upon grace,
heal what needs to be healed.
In Jesus’ powerful name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you wash your hands like Pilate? Does it work? How do you get rid of guilt & shame?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Christ and him crucified and celebrate the power of grace in your life!

Image courtesy of Yoann Boyer/Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.


Pilate Washing His Hands - History

“Ah nimium faciles, qui tristia crimina cædis

Flumineâ tolli posse putetis aquâ.”

“Too easy souls who dream the crystal flood

Can wash away the fearful guilt of blood.”

Matthew 27:24-25 . When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing — That he could not convince them what an unjust, unreasonable thing it was for him to condemn a man whom he believed to be innocent, and whom they could not prove to be guilty and that instead of doing any good by his opposition to their will, a tumult was made — Through their furious outcries he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude — Pilate did this, says Origen, according to the custom of the Jews, being willing to assert Christ’s innocency to them, not in words only, but by deed. Thus, in the instance of a murder, committed by an unknown hand, the elders of the city nearest to the place where the dead body was found, were to wash their hands over a heifer slain by way of sacrifice to expiate the crime, and to say, Our hands have not shed this blood, Deuteronomy 21:6. Alluding to which ceremony, the psalmist, having renounced all confederacy with wicked and mischievous men, says, I will wash my hands in innocency. But as washing the hands in token of innocence was a rite frequently used. also by the Gentiles, it is much more probable that Pilate, who was a Gentile, did this in conformity to them. He thought, possibly, by this avowal of his resolution to have no hand in the death of Christ, to have terrified the populace for one of his understanding and education could not but be sensible that all the water in the universe was not able to wash away the guilt of an unrighteous sentence. Saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it — Nevertheless, solemn as his declaration was, it had no effect for the people continued inflexible, crying out with one consent, His blood be on us and on our children — That is, We are willing to take the guilt of his death upon ourselves. The governor, therefore, finding by the sound of the cry that it was general, and that the people were fixed in their choice of Barabbas, passed the sentence they desired. He released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired, but he delivered Jesus to their will, Luke 23:25. In this conduct, notwithstanding his efforts to save Jesus, he was utterly inexcusable, and the more so the more he was convinced of Christ’s innocence. He had an armed force under his command sufficient to have scattered this infamous mob, and to have enforced the execution of a righteous sentence. But if not, he ought himself rather to have suffered death than to have knowingly condemned the innocent. Accordingly, as the ancient Christians believed, great calamities afterward befell him and his family, as a token of the displeasure of God for his perversion of justice in this instance. According to Josephus, he was deposed from his government by Vitellius, and sent to Tiberius at Rome, who died before he arrived there. And we learn from Eusebius, that quickly after, having been banished to Vienne in Gaul, he laid violent hands upon himself, falling on his own sword. Agrippa, who was an eye-witness to many of his enormities, speaks of him, in his oration to Caius Cesar, as one who had been a man of the most infamous character.

As to the imprecation of the Jewish priests and people, His blood be on us and on our children, it is well known, that as it was dreadfully answered in the ruin so quickly brought on the Jewish nation, and the calamities which have since pursued that wretched people in almost all ages and countries so it was particularly illustrated in the severity with which Titus, merciful as he naturally was, treated the Jews whom he took during the siege of Jerusalem of whom Josephus himself writes, [ Bell. Jud., 50. 5:11, (al. Matthew 6:12,) § 1,] that μαστιγουμενοι ανεσταυρουντο , having been scourged, and tortured in a very terrible manner, they were crucified in the view and near the walls of the city perhaps, among other places, on mount Calvary and it is very probable, this might be the fate of some of those very persons who now joined in this cry, as it undoubtedly was of many of their children. For Josephus, who was an eye-witness, expressly declares, “that the number of those thus crucified was so great that there was not room for the crosses to stand by each other and that at last they had not wood enough to make crosses off.” A passage which, especially when compared with the verse before us, must impress and astonish the reader beyond any other in the whole story. If this were not the very finger of God, pointing out their crime in crucifying his Son, it is hard to say what could deserve to be called so. Elsner has abundantly shown, that among the Greeks, the persons on whose testimony others were put to death used, by a very solemn execration, to devote themselves to the divine vengeance, if the person so condemned were not really guilty. See Doddridge.

See ye to it - That is, take it upon yourselves. You are responsible for it, if you put him to death.

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25 [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

but that rather a tumult was made there was an uproar among the people, and he might fear the consequences of it, should he not grant their request otherwise, as Philo the (p) Jew says of him, he was, , "naturally inflexible, rigid, and self-willed": but he knew the temper of these people, and had had experience of their resoluteness, when they were determined on any thing as in the case of his introducing the golden shields into the holy city, of which the same author speaks: and was then obliged, though sore against his will, as now, to yield unto them:

He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude either in conformity to a custom among the Jews, whereby they testified their innocence as to the commission of murder see Deuteronomy 21:6, or to a Gentile one, used when murder was committed, for the lustration or expiation of it (q):

saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person though this did not clear him from all guilt in this matter: he ought to have acted the part of an upright judge, and not have yielded to the unrighteous requests of the people he ought not to have scourged an innocent man, and much less have condemned and delivered him to be crucified, as he did though in this he bore a testimony to the innocence of Christ, and which is somewhat remarkable in him who was, as Philo says (r), notoriously guilty of receiving bribes, of injuries, rapine, and frequent murders of persons uncondemned:

see ye to it you must be answerable for this action, and all the consequences of it. The Syriac version renders it, "you have known" and the Persic version, "you know": and the Arabic version, "you know better" See Gill on Matthew 27:4.

(p) De Legat. ad Caium, p. 1034. (q) Vid. Ovid. Fast. l. 2. Anticlidis Redit. l. 74. Triclinius in Ajac. Sophocl. 3. 1. (r) Ubi supra. (De Legat. ad Caium, p. 1034.)

(4) Christ being acquitted by the testimony of the judge himself is nonetheless condemned by him, in order to acquit us before God.

(g) It was a custom in ancient times that when any man was murdered, or there were other slaughters, to wash their hands in water to declare themselves guiltless.

(h) Of the murder a Hebrew idiom.

Matthew 27:24 The circumstance of Pilate’s washing his hands, which Strauss and Keim regard as legendary, is also peculiar to Matthew.

ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ ] that it was all of no avail , John 12:19. “Desperatum est hoc praejudicium practicum,” Bengel.

ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται ] that the tumult is only aggravated thereby .

ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας ] he washed his hands , to show that he was no party to the execution thus insisted upon. This ceremony was a piece of Jewish symbolism (Deuteronomy 21:6 f. Joseph. Antt. iv. 8. 16 Sota viii. 6) and as Pilate understood its significance, he would hope by having recourse to it to make himself the more intelligible to Jews. It is possible that what led the governor to conform to this Jewish custom was the analogy between it and similar practices observed by Gentiles after a murder has been committed (Herod, i. 35 Virg. Aen. ii. 719 f. Soph, Aj. 654, and Schneidewin thereon Wetstein on our passage), more particularly as it was also customary for Gentile judges before pronouncing sentence to protest, and that “ πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον ” ( Constitt. Ap. ii. 52. 1 Evang. Nicod. ix.), that they were innocent of the blood of the person about to be condemned see Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 573 f. Heberle in the Stud. u. Krit. 1856, p. 859 ff.

ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος ] a Greek author would have used the genitive merely (Maetzner, ad Lycurg . 79). The construction with ἀπό is a Hebraism ( נקי מדם , 2 Samuel 3:27), founded on the idea of removing to a distance. Comp. Hist. Susann. 46, and καθαρὸς ἀπό , Acts 20:26.

Matthew 27:24. ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ , that it was no use, but rather only provoked a more savage demand, as is the way of mobs.— λαβὼν ὕδωρ , etc.: washed his hands, following a Jewish custom, the meaning of which all present fully understood, accompanying the action with verbal protestations of innocence. This also, with the grim reply of the people (Matthew 27:25), peculiar to Mt. a “traditional addition” (Weiss).

24 . When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing ] St Luke relates a further attempt on Pilate’s part to release Jesus, “I will chastise Him and let Him go” (Luke 23:22). Will not the cruel torture of a Roman scourging melt their hearts?

St John, at still greater length, narrates the struggle in Pilate’s mind between his sense of justice and his respect for Jesus on the one hand, and on the other his double fear of the Jews and of Cæsar. (1) He tried to stir their compassion by shewing Jesus to them crowned with thorns and mangled with the scourging (2) hearing that Jesus called Himself the “Son of God,” he “was the more afraid” (3) at length he even “sought to release Him,” but the chief priests conquered his scruples by a threat that moved his fears, “If thou let this man go thou art not Cæsar’s friend.” This was the charge of treason which Tacitus says ( Ann. iii. 39) was “omnium accusationum complementum.” The vision of the implacable Tiberius in the background clenched the argument for Pilate. It is the curse of despotism that it makes fear stronger than justice.

took water, and washed his hands ] Recorded by St Matthew only. In so doing Pilate followed a Jewish custom which all would understand. Deuteronomy 21:6 Psalm 26:6.

Matthew 27:24. Οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ , he availeth nothing [1187]) Why not Pilate? This practical prejudging is desperate, when men say, “We do nothing.”[1188]— ΟὐΔῈΝ , nothing , is in the nominative, or the accusative cf. John 12:19.— μᾶλλον , rather ) not greater . He feared a sedition.— λέγων , κ . τ . λ ., saying , etc.) A protestation contrary to fact.— δικαίου , righteous ) Pilate adopted this word from his wife’s warning Matthew 27:19.— ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε , see ye to it ) As the Jews said to Judas, so Pilate says to the Jews. A formula of rejection see Acts 18:15.

[1187] E. V. He prevailed nothing.—(I. B.)

[1188] Sc. We make no progress, we are effecting nothing and therefore it is useless to persist in the endeavour.—(I. B.)


Pilate Washing His Hands - History

The Jews (as any other Roman client state) were allowed to execute non-Roman citizens contravening their own laws (see Luke 14:29 for instance). The Romans very much left internal laws and usages intact after conquering.

In the wider empire, there are plenty of documented executions by client rulers especially in the documented histories of Gaul and Germany.

Nobody was, however, allowed to execute for sedition (the crime of endangering Roman rule by armed rebellion and possibly also instigating this). This prerogative belonged to Rome alone.

The fear of God was upon Pilate during the trial. Regardless if Pilate was portraid (by sources outside of the bible) as a strict ruler, we must not rule out the account of the fear (John19:8). If you’ve ever felt the fear of God, you already know of it’s over baring power and ability to humble the mightiest of men.

CB states: The Jewish leaders “… lacked the jurisdiction to impose a life sentence, which is what they wanted for the itinerant rabbi from Galilee, as we are told.”

The article says “death sentence” and CB changes it to “life sentence”! In other words, CB twists the article into saying the exact opposite what it says. So it is either an intentional distortion by CB in order to make his (her?) point, or CB has reading comprehension issues!

For those that don’t know, there was no such thing as “life sentence”, indeed prison itself wasn’t even a Jewish concept.

His life was both given and taken

Historians contemporaneous with or close to the time of Pontius Pilate show him to be a heavy-handed administrator of Roman law over a turbulent population in and around Jerusalem. Since these historians did not have any religious agenda, it would be wise to accept what they have to say about this man. The Romans in general were not known for merciful dealings with any prisoners, whether taken in battle or suspected of inciting rebellion. Chieftains and kings take in battle were dragged through the streets of Rome in the triumphal parade of the victorious Roman general, and then publicly executed. According to the Gospels, the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus executed because they feared another bloodbath like what had occurred a decade earlier during a Jewish revolt that had been put down viciously by the Roman legions. Pontius Pilate did what he was expected to do– he had Jesus killed. As to the embellishments to the story, they are either true or false, either exactly as eyewitnesses saw it, or added later to exculpate the Romans and put all the blame on the Jews. At this point in history it seems impossible to know which is true. But that Jesus was put to death by a Roman execution squad after Pontius Pilate’s edict of death is incontrovertible.

The failure to understand that it was Jesus who was in control of the happenings during the last week of his life is tragic. (1) Early in the week, the powers wanted to kill him, he escaped (2) the powers did not want a confrontation during the holy days (3)Jesus forced the issue by telling Judas to do what he had to do (4) at his arrest, when the powers asked who was Jesus, his reply, “I AM” caused the soldiers to fall to the ground. (5) If using the holy name, “I AM” was that overpowering, Jesus could have walked off. He didn’t. (6) Only when the High priest required Jesus to talk did he reply and that was to state his future position. (7) Pilate tried to duck the issue but Jesus did not give him the opportunity. (8) His life was not taken, it was given.

Ever so often this web site will try to squeeze beyond what the Bible says. I have seen hints in a number of articles that say the Bible in not completely reliable. Sometimes it comes out as “the archaeology contradicts the Bible”. Other times it comes out as the Bible is not accurately presenting facts.

That suggests that there are a number of contributors who don’t actually believe the Bible. Can something be done about this, can a believing moderator ensure scriptural purity please?

The correct starting point for all articles MUST be:
The Bible is 100% accurate and reliable (apart from translation issues).

If the archaeology supports it – good.
If not, the archaeology is wrong or incomplete.

And don’t try to cast doubt or suspicion over the accuracy of the scriptures.

Pilatus is described by Roman historians, like Tacitus, as a sadist bloodthirsty man. For this reason he was chosen to stop the continuous Jewish rebellions in Judea. In all the four Gospels, Pilatus asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews and in all four Jesus answers affirmatively. This was an act of rebellion to Rome who was the only one allowed to name a king in its provinces. This imposed automatically the death penalty.
That Pilatus came out saying that he did not find any wrong in Jesus, is pure added invention of the writers of the Gospels. As a matter of fact it was the fundament of the deicide libel against the Jews and the first attempt to go conquering the Roman Empire. So, the cumbersome Jews would have disappeared, as they did not accept the divine origins of Jesus, and the Romans would let the Christians missionering in Rome. Which slave could resist the words “you will go to Paradise, but not your master!” Politics against historical evidence.


Watch the video: Pontius Pilate Washes His (January 2022).