October 22

Text: 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)

The harder Pilate tried to evade responsibility, the more complicated the situation became.  He wanted to remove himself from a tense situation with significant potential for harm to himself.  He wanted no injustice to occur to the innocent man, Jesus.  He wanted the Jewish accusers to be at peace with the outcome.  In short, he wanted everyone to be happy with harm occurring to no one.

That was not happening!  In fact, the harder he tried to make it happen the worse the situation became.  The more he tried to remove himself from this impossible dilemma the more he appeared to be a floundering, incompetent Roman governor who could not deal with stressful situations.  The more he tried to protect an innocent man the more infuriated the multitude became.  The more he tried to satisfy the Jewish accusers the more unreasonable they were.

This text provides a fascinating contrast.  Pilate was frustrated because (1) he perceived he was accomplishing nothing, and because (2) his actions were on the edge of producing the thing he diligently sought to prevent—a riot.  Internally, some inner voice must have screamed the word no male leader ever wishes to hear—INCOMPETENT!

No man who is in a position of leadership ever, ever wants to think that he is not equal to the challenge before him.  He is ALWAYS bigger than any complex situation that he must confront.  No matter what, he can handle it!  No man in a position of leadership wishes to acknowledge that he has lost control.  Everyone he deals with is inferior to him!  How can people less than he is control him?  As far as he is concerned, such is impossible!  Thus capable leaders fall to their own arrogance.

As a result of imagined superiority, Pilate did the most ineffective thing of all his efforts.  He declared he was not responsible for what happened by washing his hands!  It was as though washing his hands in a basin of water could produce an insurmountable gap between him and the unjust deed.  Suddenly a basin of water left his ability intact by satisfying responsibility.  Maybe Pilate fooled himself, but an enormous injustice occurred because of his cowardly act.

Great injustice occurs when people refuse to act responsibly.

Suggestion for reflection: How do you demonstrate the courage to act responsibly?  (Read Judges 14:6-15.)

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