Clothe us, Lord, with Your righteousness and purity. Amen.
Text: Matthew 27:23-25
Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be cruciﬁed!” When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
“Let Him be cruciﬁed!” is the answer to the governor’s question as to what evil Jesus had done. He didn’t do any evil. “Let Him be cruciﬁed!” is the argument and becomes the judgment. As outrageously unjust as it is in the mouth of the leaders, the people, and in Pilate’s judgment, it is just with God who “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2Co 5:21). He had to be sinless to atone for our sin, and He had to be condemned to death as sinless, so that we can believe in Him. His innocence in the midst of His death should shine clearly before angels, devils, and humans, so that we who are guilty of death may be conﬁdent in death, so that the devils depart from us, and the angels serve us. Therefore the testimony about His righteousness is unanimous. Caiaphas and the council had nothing else on Him, except that He is the Son of God. Pilate testiﬁes again and again: “I ﬁnd no fault in Him.” Pilate’s wife calls Him that Righteous Man (Mat 27:19). The whole people had only the argument: “Crucify Him!”
Pilate washed his hands. But we will confess: I am guilty of the blood of this Righteous Man. Then this blood shall cleanse our hearts. It is a terrible thing to see Pilate wash his hands and declare himself innocent of the blood of this Righteous Man, but it is even more terrible to hear the people of Israel cry out: “His blood be on us and on our children!” Here all unrighteous judges and all the deceiver’s apprentices fool themselves and think they can escape with Pilate and the Jews. But were the people now so certain of His guilt? Terrible human hearts! Horrible human opinion! That’s how the devil deals with us, when we seek our glory in earthly things. Those who now want to take the blood, the responsibility, upon themselves, are some of the same ones who ﬁve days earlier joyfully shouted “Hosanna” before Him. But the Lord is willing to die for such people. I don’t know what cries out the most: Pilate’s injustice, the priests’ anger, the people’s cry, or the Savior’s love. Yes, I do know, and so do you.
My Jesus, Your righteousness and love are high as heaven and deep as the abyss and are powerful over all our sin. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to know it, believe it, thank You for it, and live by Your grace. Amen.
Even Pilate, all things judging,
Him “not guilty” must declare,
While they endlessly are bringing
Blasphemy that He must bear;
But by Jewish law they can
Never slay this guiltless Man,
So they must with Him be taking
Accusations of their making.
Source of faithfulness, all willing,
Now in Pilate’s judgment hall,
All Thy saving work fulﬁlling,
For Thy silence covers all;
All our sin and evil lust
Which on Thee alone were thrust
All Thou willingly did suffer
Innocent, Thyself to offer.
Kingo: Jesus, som skal Verden dømme L 325:6-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Freu dich sehr (ELH 256)