Matthew 27:24
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but that instead a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "You shall bear the responsibility."
Sermons
Better to be a Puritan than a PilateH. W. Beecher.Matthew 27:24
Guilt that Will not Wash OffR. Tuck Matthew 27:24
Lessons from the IncidentsWilliam West.Matthew 27:24
Pilate a Type of Self-Justifying Rejectors of the GospelS. V. McCorkle.Matthew 27:24
Pilate and His Modern ImitatorsH. W. Beecher.Matthew 27:24
The Actors in a Momentous TragedyJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 27:11-31
Christ Before Pilate. No. 2Marcus Dods Matthew 27:15-30
By the Mosaic regulations, the elders of a city in which an undiscovered murder had been committed were to wash their hands over the sin offering, and to say, "Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it" (Deuteronomy 21:6). Pilate thinks that "when he gets the Jews to take the crucifixion of Jesus upon themselves, he has relieved himself, if not entirely, yet in a great measure, of the responsibility. But just as the outward washing of hands could not clear him of his share in the guilt, so guilt contracted by our being a consenting or cooperating party in any deed of injustice and dishonour cannot be thus mitigated or wiped away" (Hanna). Hand washing as a symbolic action is familiar at all times. Lady Macbeth cannot wash off the murder spot which her conscience clearly sees on seemingly clean hands.

I. THE GUILT OF IGNORANCE WILL WASH OFF. We may do things that are wrong without knowing them to be wrong. They may do mischief and bring trouble; but they do not involve soul stain; so the sins of ignorance - if the ignorance is not guilty ignorance - will wash off.

II. THE GUILT OF FRAILTY WILL WASH OFF. We sometimes do wrong through body bias. Sometimes even against our will. Sometimes by temporary swerving of the will. If there be no set purpose, only human infirmity, the guilt will wash off.

III. THE GUILT OF FORCED DOING AGAINST OUR WILL WILL WASH OFF. We may be compelled, by circumstances or human persuasions, to do what we would not do. That may bring trouble and spoil our lives, but it does not soil our souls, and it will wash off.

IV. THE GUILT OF WILFUL SIN WILL NOT WASH OFF. That involves inward stain. It must be got out. That can only be done

(1) by regeneration, or

(2) by judgment. Oh! if a man could roll off his deeds on other men; if a man that is a partner with others could only roll off his portion of crime upon his confederates, as easily as a man can wash his hands in a bowl of water, and clean them, how easy it would be for men to be cleansed from their transgressions in this world! Pilate was the guiltiest of all that acted in this matter. He was placed where he was bound to maintain justice. He went against his better feelings. He willed the death of One whom he knew to be innocent. Pilate's guilt will not "wash off." - R.T.







When Pilate saw that he could pervail nothing.
Observe the resemblance in his evasive pleas.

1. Assuming that the matter presented had no claims on him — "Take ye Him."

2. Substituting a favourable opinion of Christ for a decision — "I find in Him no fault at all." "I have the highest regard for the Christian religion," say some.

3. Assmning that it was out of his power to decide — "And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction he sent Him to Herod" (Luke 23:7). A law is in the way, perhaps the Divine decree: the law of inherited corruption.

4. Proposing a compromise — "I will therefore chastise Him and release Him." With Christ in some things quiets conscience.

5. Surrendering the rights of judgment "What shall I do with Jesus?" I submit the case to your decision.

6. Turning censor — "Why, what evil hath He done?"

(S. V. McCorkle.)

I. Whoever does wickedness through others is not less wicked than they, but more. Pilate was no less guilty because the Jews hated and condemned Christ first. As soon as he said to them, "Take Him; see ye to it," he did all that was necessary to make him a partaker in their villainy..

II. Evil which many men commit is not distributively borne. If a thousand men commit a murder, each man is not guilty of one thousandth part of that murder; but of the whole.

III. Evil actions are not less guilty because they are done for reasons of state. Pilate sacrificed Christ from political considerations.

IV. Wickedness which a man can prevent, and which he does not prevent, inculpates him.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There is another point. This makes me a Puritan. I had rather be a Puritan than a Pilate. What is a Pilate? A Pilate is one of those courtly gentlemen, polished, tasteful expert, who is not disturbed nor warped by convictions in over-measure; who looks upon all moral qualities as a gambler looks upon cards, which he shuffles, and plays according to the exigency of his game — and one just as easy as another. A Pilate is a man who believes in letting things have their own way. "Do not sacrifice yourself. Do not get in the way of a movement. Do the best thing. Live in peace with your time. Be not like the fool, who stands in his own light. Maintain good appearances-that is profitable. See to it that you do not go too far, one way or another. Study the interest of Number One all through. And, whatever comes, see that you come out uppermost. Do not be gross, brutal, fanatical — that is not profitable. Preserve your balance. See that you keep your eye on the chances. If they go this way, you go with them far enough to reap them. If they go the other way, go with them. Do not be too scrupulous. Be just enough so to gain your ends. Use men, use events, use everything that is profitable. Do not use your conscience too much i " This is the language of the Pilates of our day. Those men who ride astride of the times, and of administrations, and of policies; those men who are polished, cold, calculating, speculating — these are the Pirates — the Pilates, I mean! It was a blunder of the lip, but, after all, it hit right!

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. Men have not always that strict regard to justice and honour, that might be reasonably expected from their stations and characters.

II. Truth and innocence are frequently overpowered by numbers, and oppressed by noise and tumult.

III. A party spirit does oftentimes hurry men to the most fatal extremities.

(William West.)

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