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Matthew 27:19-25

Clean Hands?

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto 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. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.


Pilate, the Roman governor, may have sat on the judgment seat, but he did so without the usual self-assurance that went with the job. Things were not going well for him that morning in 30 AD. He had examined the facts in Jesus' case and found that Jesus had done nothing wrong... certainly nothing that was worthy of the death sentence. He knew that Jesus' enemies were acting out of envy rather than a sense of justice. He appealed to the people, whom he thought would continue to support Jesus. Did they want him to release Barabbas, the thief, murderer and insurrectionist, or Jesus?

Now another complication arose. Pilate's wife had a dream in which Jesus' innocence and righteousness were revealed to her. The Roman's placed a lot of value on the interpretation of dreams, and this would have put a great deal of pressure on Pilate to let Jesus go.

We do not know why Matthew inserted this fact about Pilate's wife's dream, but perhaps it was to clearly establish Jesus' innocence. The law of Moses declared that at the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter should be established. Judas had first said that he had betrayed an innocent man; then Pilate had found Him innocent; and finally his wife testified that He was a righteous man.

The priests and the elders, however, continued to persuade the crowd that the Sanhedrin had found Jesus guilty and that they should ask for the release of Barabbas. The crowd began to shout, "Let Him be crucified."

"Why, what evil hath he done?"

But, there was no testimony given that Jesus had done anything wrong. Not one person stepped forward with any shred of evidence. "Let Him be crucified... Let Him be crucified ... Let Him be crucified."

The power of the crowds voice was frightening, and Pilate conceded. Publicly washing his hands, he declared himself to be clean from the shed blood of this innocent man, but the people arrogantly took the responsibility for His death.

What pressures are you under to sometimes break the commandments of God? Do you wash your hands and give in to the pressure of your peers? Does this make you innocent? Will you stand up and boldly defend the faith regardless of the cost?

Before The Throne:

Pray for the courage to defend the faith. The world is facing the possibility of widespread wars, particularly with fanatical Muslim countries. The day may come when our faith will be severely tested, our testimony extremely important, and courage indispensable. These fanatics are crying for the death of Christianity, though we have done them no harm. Pray for them. Pray that the Spirit of God would reach out to the people who these fanatics oppress and would begin a mass movement toward Jesus Christ. Pray that the gospel would be the victor in the violent days ahead.

For Further Study:

(v.19)
** his. Ge 20:3-6; 31:24, 29; Job 33:14-17; Pr 29:1; ** that just. Isa 53:11; Zec 9:9; Lu 23:41, 47; 1Pe 2:22; 1Jo 2:1;

(v.20) ** persuaded. Mr 15:11; Ac 14:18-19; 19:23-29; ** should. Lu 23:18-20; Joh 18:40; 19:15-16; Ac 3:14,15;

(v.22) ** What. Job 31:31; Ps 22:8-9; Isa 49:7; 53:2-3; Zec 11:8; Mr 14:55; 15:12-14; Lu 23:20-24; Joh 19:14-15; Ac 13:38;

(v.23) ** Why. Ge 37:18-19; 1Sa 19:3-15; 20:31-33; 22:14-19; ** But. Mt 21:38-39; Ac 7:57; 17:5-7; 21:28-31; 22:22-23; 23:10, 12-15;

(v.24) ** and washed. De 21:6-7; Job 9:30-31; Ps 26:6; Jer 2:27, 35; ** just. Joh 19:4; Ac 3:14; 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 3:18;

(v.25) ** His. Nu 35:33; De 19:10, 13; Jos 2:19; 2Sa 1:16; 3:28-29; 1Ki 2:32; 2Ki 24:3-4; Ps 109:12-19; Eze 22:2-4; 24:7-9; Mt 21:44; 23:30-37; Ac 5:28; Ac 7:52; 1Th 2:15-16; Heb 10:28-30; ** and. Ex 20:5; Eze 18:14-32;

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