April 1 I Thursday
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” —Isaiah 53:6
After being falsely accused by the Sanhedrin, Jesus went before Pilate, who was the Roman Governor of Judea. They told Pilate, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king” (Luke 23:2). Did we notice a difference between the charges that the Sanhedrin found and what they brought before Pilate?
Just moments ago, Jesus was accused of destroying the temple and blasphemy by the high priest, but the charges that they took to Pilate were not about the temple or blaspheming. Why? Because those charges were made to justify to every Jew in Israel why Jesus needed to die. When the case was brought before Pilate, however, they brought three charges that are of interest to Rome. But after Pilate questioned Jesus, Pilate gave the conclusion, “I find no basis for a charge against this man” (Luke 23:3-4).
Pilate saw through the schemes of Jesus’s accusers, “he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matthew 27:18). Although Pilate was not a fool, he was certainly weak. Since Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate chose to pass the case to Herod, because Jesus was under his jurisdiction. Herod asked Jesus to perform a miracle and plied Him with many questions, but Jesus gave no response. Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus, placed an elegant robe on Him and sent him back to Pilate.
Knowing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate saw another opportunity to release Jesus. It was custom at every Passover, as a kind gesture to the Jewish people, for the Roman Governor to release a prisoner. Pilate asked, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” The crowd shouted, “Barabbas!” Pilate inquired, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” The crowd responded, “Crucify Him!” Pilate questioned, “Why? What crime has He committed?” But the crowd kept yelling, “Crucify Him!” As the cries became an uproar, Pilate took water, washed his hands and declared, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood. It is your responsibility!” (Matthew 27:17-24).
A truly innocent man was condemned to die. This happened just as God had foretold in Isaiah 53:6 and prepared in the sacrificial system, and Paul accurately concludes with, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). For our sake, Jesus died. May we spend some time and meditate on this verse: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Prayer: Precious Jesus, for my sake, You were accused, rejected and scorned by others, ultimately being condemned to die. Thank You for taking my sin, so that I may become the righteousness of God.