When Washing Hands is a Fools Errand

[Listen to the sound file while you read — two inches to the right of this line on this page, marked “Aubre’s Gift”]

A Mid Afternoon Devotion for Tuesday of Holy Week
Preparing our hearts for Good Friday and Easter  (One more coming this evening)

The Savior is condemned to death by Pilate.

Adapted from the accounts of
Mt 27:21-26; Mk 15:9-15; Lk 23:18-25; Jn 18:33-40

Washing hands 3

Jesus is interviewed by Pilate.

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

“Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about Me?”

“Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world.”

Then Pilate said to him,

“So you are a king?”
“You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

Pilate said to him,

“What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them,

“I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover.”

The governor again said to them,

“Which of the two do you want me to release for you? Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews or Barabbas?”

For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead. So they said,


Pilate said to them,

“Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said,

“Let him be crucified!”

Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting,

“Crucify, crucify him!”

And he said a third time,

“Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”

But they shouted all the more,

pilate-wash-hands 1“Crucify him!”

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, and wishing to satisfy the crowd, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,

“I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

And all the people answered,

“His blood be on us and on our children!”

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him over according to their will to be crucified. Now Barabbas was a robber and a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.


Has any washbasin ever been as misused as the one Pilate used that day?

There he was. He sat in the seat of power. The opportunity was his. He could have dispensed justice. But he refused. He could see nothing to gain for himself, and so he declared himself innocent of the blood of Christ and moved on with the rest of his life.


How could Pilate think that he could wash his hands of the blood of Christ?

Pilate wasn’t innocent. Neither are we.

We are all guilty of the blood of Christ. Apart from the sacrifice He made, we all stand condemned. We were “dead in our transgressions and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1, 5)

That’s why we need a Savior.

That’s why Jesus came.

“Sinless Savior, thank You for the exchange of Your life for my sin. I deserved condemnation, but instead You were condemned in my place. Help me to live for the justice that You were denied. Help me to respond to any injustice done to me in ways that bring glory and honor to You. Help me to stand against injustice done to others who are made in the image and likeness of You, my God. For Your glory, I ask this. Amen.”

An excerpt from Experience the Passion of Christ, by Marty Schoenleber, Jr.

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