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Articles

It Won't Wash Off

Pontius Pilate had the unenviable task of trying Jesus. Actually, it was a simple matter. Jesus did no wrong, which Pilate soon discovered. He should have been released. But the angry Jews wanted an execution, not justice.

“And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves’” (Matthew 27:24).

What a scene: the innocent prisoner is crucified while the dishonest judge declares himself guiltless! He was saying, “I am not responsible.” It won’t wash off, Pilate.

From the beginning, man has tried to evade responsibility for his conduct. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, etc. Nowadays people point to heredity, environment, upbringing, associates, poverty, fate, ignorance, and just about everything else as responsible for their wrongs. Regardless of adverse influences and despite others’ involvement, I alone am responsible for my conduct.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

There is, however, a supremely ironic twist in this event. While there is no way to wash off responsibility for our wrongs, there is a way to wash off the guilt. Jesus’ blood cleanses us, the very bloodshed Pilate was ordering.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “Much more then, having been justified through His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9). “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

We purify our souls in obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22), when we repent and by faith are baptized into Jesus’ death (Romans 6:3). The saints John saw in the Revelation “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14); so can we.

Pilate had no idea of the ramifications of his actions that eventful day. Now that you know them, whom will you follow: the governor with his useless denial of responsibility or the King with His cleansing?

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