Matthew 27:1-38 (NKJV)
When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” 24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” 25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. 35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, [j]that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
When Judas sees that Jesus was condemned, he confessed that he sinned by betraying innocent blood. When Pilate sees that the Jews cannot be swayed from their rage, he washed his hands in front of them and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.” The Jews, however, accept blame for Jesus’ blood and shout, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
While Judas and Pilate both recognize Jesus’ innocence, both attempt to distance themselves from it. Judas, consumed with sorrow, hangs himself in despair over what he has done. Pilate, thinking to excuse his cowardice, distances himself from Jesus by attempting to abdicate his responsibility. While both are correct that Jesus’ blood is innocent, neither understand that Jesus’ blood is God’s blood. If they had believed this, Judas would have fled to Jesus in godly sorrow, seeking forgiveness, and Pilate would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
It is necessary to believe that Jesus was innocent, but it is also necessary to believe the words of the apostle, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Jesus’ blood—His innocent, bitter sufferings and death—cleanses from sin because it is God’s blood. Jesus is not a mere man. He is the Word of God who became flesh (John 1:14), “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). Jesus, as God in human flesh, sheds His innocent blood to pay for the sins of the world, so that all who daily repent and believe His death is the atoning sacrifice for their sins are cleansed from their sins and are counted innocent with Jesus’ innocence in God’s sight.
In our daily fight against sin, if we succumb to temptation, we must not fall into despair as Judas did, thinking our sin is beyond forgiveness. We must also beware of falling to pride and self-justification as Pilate did. Each day we are to repent of our sins because we believe what Judas and Pilate did not, that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Let us pray: We give You thanks, dear Father, for the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Cleanse us from our sins and grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may persevere in repentance and faith, and joyfully live in the Christ’s innocence. Amen.