Matthew 27:24 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’s your responsibility.”
I wore a mask to the grocery store for the first time this week. I strapped it around my ears as I was walking into the store and I wanted to burst into tears. Before grabbing a cart, I was instructed to add plastic gloves to my new shopping attire. I felt like I was more appropriately prepared for surgery rather than just a quick trip to pick up supplies for Easter dinner. As I pushed my cart down the isles I wondered , “Can people tell If I’m smiling at them? – Should I even try?” I completed my task, drove my quick route home, removed my mask and promptly…
washed my hands.
Washing our hands – its one of our top defenses against contracting and spreading COVID-19. Hot water, soap, 20 seconds. It has become a common comment between friends, parents to children, podcasters sign offs “Have a good day – and go wash your hands.” This one simple act has become one of the most powerful contributors to stopping this crazy and returning our lives to what once was. The stakes are high. If I contract the virus and don’t stop to take the time to wash it from my skin- I become a carrier of a disease that if spread to a vulnerable person – could lead to their death. Its a big deal – this hand washing thing.
In todays readings we see this same simple act having even greater ramifications. We join the scene in Matthew 27. Jesus has been arrested and has an audience with Pilate the governor. It was Pilates responsibility to determine his guilt and his future. He was amazed at Jesus calm demeanor and his unwillingness to engage in his defense. His decision to offer Jesus as one of the two choices the gathered crowd could set free ( a common practice during the Passover feast) still brings chills to my spine. His wife confirmed his decision to remove himself from the process by warning him, “Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” We see the familiar scene – Pilate offering the murderer Barabbas and the innocent, perfect Jesus. Upon hearing the shouts of the crowd choice “JESUS – CRUCIFY HIM.” – he made a public demonstration of his attempt to separate himself from the responsibility of the death of Jesus.
v. 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!” Probably one of the most famous accounts of hand washing in history – which ushered in the most important, effective, disease ending acts ever.
V. 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The death of Jesus – brought the death of effects of sin in the lives of the people 2000 years ago and to us today. The end. It was the great vaccine that solved our biggest problem. Pilate thought his act of hand washing would confirm his innocence when it actuality it magnifies his sin. There is no amount of scrubbing that can take away the truth that each of us is in desperate need of this remedy that came through the shedding of Jesus innocent blood.
Today, this Friday we call “Good”, we will all wash our hands for what will feel like at least 1000 times. We will work hard to not touch our face. We will make something creative for dinner so we don’t have to venture out to the store for missing ingredients from our pantry. We will remember that famous hand washing so long ago, the unfairness of it all, the pain that followed for Jesus and his followers, the very darkest day in the history of the world.
And we will wait… in anticipation of the healing, the victory celebration to come, that has absolutely no connection with our attempts to clean ourselves up and everything to do with a Savior that loves us …
right where we are. and points us forward to where HE is.