Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
I made a bit of a mistake this morning in my picture for today. I read the passage early this morning as is my normal custom but when I was out later in the day, I remembered the story of Pilate washing his hands of Jesus’ execution. I was sure that it was in this passage…but no. Still, I’m going with it. In Matthew’s Gospel, Pilate seeks to wash his guilt away of handing Jesus over for crucifixion by washing his hands publicly. There is a great deal that has moved into legend about Pilate, but one legend in particular is that Pilate’s ghost appears every Good Friday to wash his hands in the waters of Lake Oberalp in the shadow of Mt Pilatus in Switzerland. Its a painful thought that Pilate is punished for time eternal to continue to wash his hands of the guilt. Its a fascinating legend to think about, but it gets me thinking about how our guilt is actually washed away…its not any acts that we do, but instead the gift of God – the gift that came from Pilate letting Jesus be handed over…