“So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Matthew 27:24-25
Knowing that we were going to encounter Jesus’ condemnation for a second consecutive day, I chose an image that focused on one particular moment from the interplay between Pilate, the accuser, and Jesus, the accused.
After condemning Jesus to death Pilate washes his hands. The irony is too much to bear. Does Pilate realize how close he is to performing our holiest of sacraments, and yet getting everything about it wrong? Even in the picture before us, the basin looks remarkably similar to the font we find at our church. The allusion to baptism cannot be mistaken. And yet Pilate’s simple act of washing his own hands turns everything sacred and divine about baptism into an unholy farce.
Unlike in baptism, where it is God through the power of the Holy Spirit, that cleanses us from sin and saves us from death, Pilate’s hand washing is a self-proclamation of innocence for his role in putting a sinless man to death.
It is only the power of God, as it always is, that can save this moment. But friends, for that we still must wait. We have only just begun. The road to Golgotha is long and windy. We will meet many more along the way, but through it all, through the middle of those crowds, goes the one who will reconcile all, including Pilate, by the cross he carries.
Peace in Christ,
Pr. Daniel Joyner Miller