A mediation on Matt. 27:24-26 and the meaning of Good Friday.
They had it all wrong.
The chief priests and elders had gathered a crowd to condemn Jesus. Their plan was finally coming together. They were now closer than ever to getting rid of this insurrectionist – Jesus of Nazareth. He was a trouble maker and he was making the religious institution look bad. He had accused them and condemned them in public of the fact that they had their religion all wrong. They needed to get rid of him – for good. They had no idea what good they were doing.
They brought Jesus before Pilate. As governor, Pilate, could do away with Jesus. Pilate was reluctant to do what the crowd wanted him to do with Jesus. They shouted, “Let him crucified!” But when it seemed like the crowd was getting out of control, Pilate gave up his attempts at justice. After all, he had to watch his own back. “Crucify him!”, the crowd shouted. Pilate, standing over the crowd, took water and washed his hands in front of them, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” He thought that by washing his hands with water in front of the crowd, he was shifting any wrong-doing of the situation onto the crowd, saying to them, “Fine, we’ll do what you want with this Jesus. But it’s only because that’s what you want. I’m not a part of this.” Pilate’s decision was at best indifference, but ultimately he was looking out for Number One, namely, himself. He had it all wrong.
Having heard what the governor had just said, the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” They didn’t mind taking the blame for any wrong-doing of the situation. After all, Jesus was a fake, and he deserved to die. Oh, but how they had it all wrong.
That very day, Jesus was scourged by Roman soldiers. It was a horrifically cruel punishment. Jesus was tied to a post and beaten with a leather whip that was interwoven with pieces of bone and metal, which tore through his skin and tissue. Then, he was mocked, spat on, and crucified at Golgotha. Those who cared about Jesus, looked on helplessly as their teacher and friend slowly died hanging on that cross. All they could think was, “This is all wrong.”
Jesus did die on that cross that night. The chief priests and elders, the people, Pilate, Jesus’ friends – none of them knew that this had to happen. Jesus had to die. He was doing the will of the One who sent him. He was following orders from above – from his Father. God had sent his Son into the world so that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life. Jesus’ blood was shed for the salvation of sinners.
Pilate thought he was innocent of Jesus’ blood when in fact it was Jesus who was the innocent one. He was the Son of God – holy, perfect, and without blemish. After all, he was God himself. Jesus was innocent. Yes, Pilate had it wrong.
The people who shouted wanted Jesus dead and said, “His blood be on us,” didn’t realize that Jesus’ blood would indeed be on them. But not for their guilt. Jesus’ blood would be on them for their salvation if they would believe and repent. Yes, they had it wrong.
But I’ve passed over a small detail: “Then he released for them Barabbas.” Pilate, as governor, had a tradition of releasing one prisoner to the people at the same time every year. The crowd wanted the prisoner named, Barabbas. He was also an insurrectionist. The thing is, Barabbas, means “Son of the father.” Ironically, the people wanted Barabbas released rather than the true Son of the Father. Oh, how they had it all wrong.
The chief priests and elders wanted to get rid of Jesus, once and for all, for good. But they didn’t realize that Jesus’ death would actually be for good. His death was for good – for our good. It is good for us because by his wounds we are healed. The cross was hell for Jesus so that it would be salvation for us. Oh, how things went from wrong to right in just one night. Oh, how that can change us!
Let us not forget that it was our sin that put him there. But let us not just stop there in today’s solemn remembrance, but let us accept and believe that he went there to the cross because he considered us precious to him. Oh, how he loves us.
It’s Good Friday. Yes, truly, it is good.