Don’t Have Anything To Do With That Innocent Man

6th Wednesday in Lent

Don’t Have Anything to Do with That Innocent Man

Text:  Matthew 27:19

Pilate was sitting on his judge’s seat, and boy was it hot!  It was his job to make a decision on this all-important matter.  We know the ultimate reasons that Pilate’s decision was important.  But there were plenty of political reasons, too.  As we reviewed last week, Pilate and the Jews did not get along.  The Jews viewed all Roman leaders as tyrants, and especially Pilate.  He had been disrespectful.  He had oppressed them.  He had slaughtered them.

Tension was already very high.  Pilate perhaps stationed himself in Jerusalem instead of Caesarea for good reason.  It was Passover week.  Would the Jews try and pull a fast one and rebel and revolt like they did with the Egyptians at the first Passover?  The last thing Pontius Pilate wanted to do was to make the Jews more mad or to give them a greater reason to rebel.

But that was exactly the predicament.  Pilate didn’t see any reason to bring a charge against Jesus.  He questioned Jesus and Jesus answered simply and humbly.  He seemed to be a different kind of person who was a different kind of king that spoke a different kind of truth.  If he sentenced Jesus to die it would be cold-blooded murder.  But if he helped out the Jews and granted their demand it would go a long way in the PR department.

In the midst of this internal debate, Matthew alone records the special message that Pilate then received:  While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.’”

This was highly unusual.  In a male-dominated society, it was none of her business what her husband was doing with this trial.  Pilate wasn’t being told to wash the dishes or fold the laundry or wash the chariot in the garage.  She was inserting herself into this monumental trial and was telling him what to do.

It would also be unusual if this dream was from the Lord.  Gentiles did not usually have dreams from the Lord.  Unbelievers did not receive dreams from the Lord.  We might think of Pharaoh at the time of Joseph or King Nebuchadnezzar at the time of Daniel.  Then there were the Magi who visited young Jesus that were warned in a dream.

Whatever exactly happened, she felt strongly about two things:  1) Jesus was innocent (as she calls him), and 2) Her husband shouldn’t have anything to do with Jesus and should remove himself from the situation.  Don’t Have Anything to Do With That Innocent Man she said.

Enough was finally enough for Pilate.  He was not bold enough to make the right decision.  He was too concerned about his reputation.  He was too afraid of the trouble the Jews might cause.  He neither followed his conscience nor really followed the advice of his wife.  He washed his hands in front of the Jews and said, I am innocent of this man’s blood.  It is your responsibility.”

Yet Pilate knew he wasn’t innocent.  The buck stopped with him.  He was the one and only who stood between Jesus and the cross.  But he acquiesced and gave the sentence the Jews shouted for.  We might be reminded of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Macbeth had killed the king and washed his hands of the blood but exclaimed that all the water of the oceans couldn’t wash him of his guilt.  Perhaps this washing was Pilate’s futile attempt to cleanse himself of guilt.  But all to no avail.

Again we can make parallels with Pilate.  We can understand his struggle with conscience.  This sometimes is a daily struggle for us.  We have that pet sin or two that we keep doing over and over and over again.  We want to stop.  We know it’s wrong.  But we cave in and keep doing it.

We are faced with a decision we just know is wrong.  We know it’s not right to gossip and share that story.  We know it’s not right to consume that substance or one extra drink that puts us over our limit.  We know it’s not right to look at those pictures, or to look at those people, with such wandering eyes.  We know we shouldn’t act that certain way around others, we know we should be better examples.  We hear our conscience speaking.  But the peer pressure can be high.  The temptation can be alluring.  Our conscience can be ignored.  So like Pilate, we turn from gutless to guilty.

Or perhaps at times we are conflicted with how we are supposed to deal with Jesus.  Pilate knew he should have taken a more proactive approach.  He knew he should have stood his ground.  He knew Jesus was special and he knew he should have been more involved with Jesus.  But instead of learning more or pursuing a relationship with Jesus, he backed away and took the easy route.

Sound familiar?  We know we should be at church, but sometimes that pillow or the beach seem so much more comforting.  We know we should be going to Bible study and learning more about Jesus and growing in our relationship with him, but there are just so many things on our To Do List.  We know we should pray more often, but we get busy and forget.  We know we should read the Bible more, but who has time for that?  We know we should share our faith more, but that’s scary and uncomfortable.

The sinful nature inside of us joins forces with Satan to whisper in our ears, Don’t Have Anything to Do With That Innocent Man!  So often, just like Pilate, we listen.  We cave in.  We are weak.  We don’t pursue a relationship with Jesus as we should, and to make ourselves feel better we wash our hands and say, “I’m innocent!  I haven’t done anything wrong!”

But oh we have.  We have done more than our share of wrong.  Pilate may have been spineless and gutless and allowed Jesus to be crucified.  But it was also our sins that made Jesus’ crucifixion necessary.

One final time then during this final Wednesday service we see Jesus willingly go to the cross.  He made no objection.  He gave no defense.  Silently and willingly Jesus allowed Pilate’s unjust judging.  Silently and willingly he accepted the death sentence.  Silently and willingly he carried his own cross to Calvary where he would be crucified.

As we gather next week for worship, we will finally see what Christ came to do.  We will see horrors and atrocities.  We will see blood and gore.  We will hear cries of pain and agony.  But we will also see sin conquered.  We will see death destroyed.  We will see Satan crushed.

We have been walking with Christ following his footsteps as he marches on his mission toward Calvary and the cross.  Next week we will see the mission accomplished.  Next week we will see the goal achieved.  Next week we will see salvation finished.  And it will be given freely to us.

The power of the cross and our salvation changes our lives.  It moves us to follow our conscience.  It motivates us to pursue a right relationship with Jesus.  It puts joy in our hearts so that we want to hear more, we want to learn more, we want to grow in our relationship with Jesus.  It gives us a passionate desire to be in church and to be in Bible study.  It gives us thankful hearts that live in love and with peace.

Pontius Pilate took the easy route and didn’t want anything to do with that innocent man.  But we do.  We want everything to do with that innocent man, for he is our Savior!

AMEN

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Posted on April 13, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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