Reading: Matthew 27: 11-26
Verse 23: Why? What crime has he committed?
Today we read of the “trial” before Pilate, the Roman governor. Like a few stops along the journey to the cross, we could ask if Jesus had to die. Couldn’t there have been another way? Pilate had the authority to free or to condemn Jesus. The decision concerning life and death rested in his hands alone.
The religious authorities that have been pushing the action to this point in the story would say that Jesus has to die. They have traded barbs with Him over the last few years and it has increasingly become an “us or Him” type of situation. They have schemed and trumped up a charge. They have the crowd whipped up and ready to influence Pilate. All goes according to their plan. Even though Pilate senses Jesus is innocent, the crowd is too much for Pilate. They roar for Jesus’ death even as he asks them, “Why? What crime has he committed”? Pilate condemns Jesus to desth, but washes his hands of Jesus’ blood.
Is it all going according to their plan? Did Jesus gave to die? The plan being followed is not the religious authorities’ plan. It is God’s plan. To die, to be our sacrifice, is why God sent Jesus in the first place. It is hard to understand why a father would send a son knowing his fate on the cross. But God has a few years of experience with humanity. God has sent prophet after prophet, priest after priest, king after king to try and lead the people to live in a right relationship with God. He has seen dove after dove, lamb after lamb, cow after cow sacrificed on the altar. None brings atonement. None removes the guilt of our sins. None ultimately changes the relationship between God and the people. Mankind is sinful. We are of the flesh so we struggle with sin. We live in a constant battle with sin. The old covenant left humanity captive to sin and death.
In Jesus’ death and resurrection God established a new covenant with humanity. On the cross, Jesus took on the sin of the world. He took on sin that was, sin that is, and sin to come. In His sacrifice Jesus paid the price for our sin. We do not have to offer sacrifices any longer. Jesus is our sacrifice. He chose the cross so that the sins of the world could be washed away. Through His blood our sins are washed away. Jesus fulfilled His statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Through the name of Jesus we can claim eternal life. In His name, our sins are forgiven. Thank you God for the blood of the Lamb.