January 11, 2007

A Token of Innocence

Matthew 27:24

This morning my little girl came down the stairs to use the bathroom. I could tell it was my four year old because my two other daughters – the seven year old and nine year old – come galloping down the steps like runaway horses. In contrast, my four year old shuffles softly down the stairs. It’s amazing how in the stillness of the morning every sound is magnified: the creaking of the house, the muffled voices and laughter in the children’s rooms, the hum of the heater and the calibrated ticking of the clock. So, it was as I worked on the computer that I heard my little girl go potty, flush the toilet and click the bathroom light off. But, I didn’t hear the distinctive sound of water splashing that comes from hand washing. I called her into the study and asked her if she had washed her hands. She said no. I explained to her that it was the germs that got us sick and that the way to get rid of the germs was to wash our hands with soap because the soap made the germs slide off the hands. She nodded and went back to the bathroom to wash her hands. After she was done, my daughter padded up the stairs and resumed her play.

That’s when I began thinking of Pontius Pilate’s infamous line, “I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility!" as he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd (Matthew 27:24).

What a true politician! Talk about a logic that’s twisted as a pretzel! Pilate’s futile attempt to exonerate himself was to wash his hands and deliver up the guiltless One to the will of His enemies. At the same time, Pilate declared that he found no fault in Jesus. The final insult by Pilate was to release to the Jews a man guilty of sedition and murder: Barabbas. After all, Barabbas was the expression of the spirit of Satan who was a murderer from the beginning, and of rebellion against the authority, which ironically, Pilate was there to maintain.

The multitudes and the throngs chose the world, rather than the Son of God. In their blindness, they claimed to see. In their ignorance, they professed to know. In their flesh, they chose flesh over Spirit.

Pilate had decided to compromise by giving the crowd the choice. When that didn’t work, he then tried to elude the responsibility by ordering a basin of water to be brought to him and, before the crowd, washed his hands declaring his innocence of this man's blood. Unlike washing off something unpleasant, this one thing, i.e. the consequence of Pilate’s choice, could not be washed away.

Not only did Pilate know that Jesus was innocent and that justice demand-ed that the innocent man go free, but he also knew that the charges being made against Jesus were false. Yet, Pilate acquiesced. Isn’t that some-thing? Many times the pressure of the crowd is more than we can bare, and we find ourselves doing things we really do not want to do. Even when our hearts are telling us what is right.

And so, we arrive at the question "What shall I do with this Man Jesus who is called the Messiah?" This is the question of the ages. It is one that cannot be evaded. Neither can you wash your hands from the res-ponsibility of the consequences for the decision that you make about Jesus Christ. Though the question was asked by a Roman procurator almost 2000 years ago, it is a question that you must deal with and answer for yourself today. You can receive Him as your Lord. Or you can reject His lordship over your life.

Consider this Scriptural passage –

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good (Titus 1:16).”

I say again: What you can't do is ignore Him. You cannot wash your hands of this man, Jesus. Not to receive Him is to reject Him. Not to believe in Him is to disbelieve in Him. Not to confess Him is to deny Him. Have you already taken your position? Are you satisfied with it? Here’s a final sobering thought:

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whore mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)”

What say you?

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