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Why Did He Do It? 

Matthew 27:11-26

 

"Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.' [12] And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. [13] Then Pilate said to Him, 'Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?' [14] And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed. [15] Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the multitude any one prisoner whom they wanted. [16] And they were holding at that time a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. [17] When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' [18] For he knew that because of envy they had delivered Him up. [19] And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, 'Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.' [20] But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death. [21] But the governor answered and said to them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release for you?' And they said, Barabbas.' [22] Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said, 'Let Him be crucified!' [23] And he said, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they kept shouting all the more, saying, 'Let Him be crucified!' [24] And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.' [25] And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children!' [26] Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified." (NASB)

When the Roman Soldiers drove the spikes through the hands of Jesus, they were driving our sins to the cross. Think for a moment about that day. They moved Him from one clandestine courtroom to another to achieve their goal-Crucifixion. Finally, Pilate sealed His fate when he took the bowl of water and declared, "I wash my hands of the blood of this man," and he turned Jesus over to the angry mob.

They beat Him with a cat of 9-tails. 39 strokes some say, following Jewish law. The truth is, we don't know how many lashes He took. The whip was not in the hands of a Jew-it was a Roman who beat him.

"Hail, King of the Jews," they cried, as they put a crown made of thorns on his head. They spat in his face, they pulled his beard and they mocked his Holy name.

They put a 300 pound cross on his back, and in His weakened state, He stumbled beneath the load. Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Him as he walked up the hill to His destiny.

The soldiers ripped His robe from Him, reopening his wounds and forced Him on the rough hewn cross. Though it was customary to use ropes to tie a victim to the cross, the soldiers used fourteen-inch spikes to nail Him and our sins to the cross. First one spike and then another through the quivering flesh of His hands.

Then as the serpent was raised in the wilderness, they raised Him from the ground and dropped the cross into its resting place.

He stayed on the cross for six hours before the ridiculing, mocking crowd, and then He became sin for us. Paul wrote, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21)

There, He forgave our trespasses, and there He "nailed our sin to the cross." And God turned His back on His Son refusing to look at the sin He'd become.

The earth trembled, the skies blackened, and the veil in the temple split, and Jesus exclaimed. "It is finished."

Why did he do it? Why did Pilate acquit Barabbas and crucify Jesus?

He did so, even though he knew Jesus is the King of the Jews (11) and Barnabas was notorious criminal (16). Pilate even knew that the accusations against Jesus came from envious people (18) and had no grounding in fact. Pilate's wife begged him to release Jesus, but he didn't listen to her (19). This was an innocent man (23), yet Pilate chose to set the guilty man free and kill the innocent man. Why?

I'm sure that part of the reason was to avoid an uprising among the people that could eventually cost him his job, but in the final analysis he didn't it because he was too weak to do the right thing. Notice how he dealt with the issue:

First, he tried to AVOID THE ISSUE all together by trying to avoid his responsibility. John 18:31 says "Pilate therefore said to them, 'Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.' The Jews said to him, 'We are not permitted to put anyone to death,'" (NASB) In the final analysis, he couldn't shift the decision to others, he had to decide for himself.

Again, he tried to pass the buck. He tried to take the EASY WAY OUT and force the people to make the decision for him by offering to release someone they would never want back in their community. Matthew 27:16-17 says, "And they were holding at that time a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. [17] When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" (NASB) I'm sure Pilate thought he was being clever and had discovered a way that he could avoid making a decision, but he was wrong. He was wrong because he underestimated the extent of the religious leader's hatred for Jesus.

Third, Pilate failed to act on SOUND ADVISE from his wife who urged him to be a man and do the right thing. Matthew 27:19 says, "And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, 'Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.'" (NASB) Again, Pilate suffered from indecision, refusing to follow the advise his wife gave him. He was paralyzed by his own inability to make a decision.

Fourth, Pilate ASKED OTHERS TO MAKE A DECISION that only he could make. In Matthew 27:22-23 "Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said, 'Let Him be crucified!' [23] And he said, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they kept shouting all the more, saying, 'Let Him be crucified!'"

When all his attempts to not to make a decision failed, he acted, but he chose to take the path of least resistance and do what the people wanted. Look at Matthew 27:24 "And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.'" ( NASB)

Pilate deluded himself into thinking that he wasn't responsible, but he was. His indecision led him to endorse the decision of others, making him culpable for their actions and his inactions. He wasn't successful in avoiding the decision when he tried to pass the buck off to the Jews in the beginning or when he tried to make the people "an offer they couldn't refuse" by releasing Jesus, not Barabbas. He failed to listen to his wife's encouragement to do the right thing, but chose to listen to the ranting of an angry mob instead. In the end, he tried to say that his indecision didn't have consequences, but it did. No matter how much he washed his hands, he would be responsible.

WHY DID HE DO IT? Bottom line, he did it because he was a sinner. Just like you and me. He did it because he ignored the consequences of his decision, thinking that God would somehow make an exception for his sin. Did he really think he could wash away his guilt with a basin of water?

WHY DID HE DO IT? He did it because He loves us. No, I'm not talking about Pilate now, I'm talking about Jesus Christ, who loves us so much that He bore our sins on the cross and made a way possible for our guilt to be removed. Not with a basin of water, but with His own blood.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you've accepted Jesus as your Savior and surrendered your life to Him as your Lord? Won't you pray with me now? With a simple prayer, tell Him that you've sinned and that you're sorry for you sins. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to take them away from you. Tell Him you'll live the rest of your life for Him and that you'll serve Him until your dying day. Tell Him that you are willing to exchange your life for His death. Ask Him to save you.

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