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Palm/Passion Sunday, March 24, 2024

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Palm/Passion Sunday, March 24, 2024

Pilate, a consummate politician, knew how to please a crowd.  He tried for Jesus’ release by setting a choice before the people, the choice between Jesus or Barabbas.  The people chose Barabbas (vs. 21).  Pilate tried again for Jesus’ release by protesting Jesus’ innocence (vs. 23).  The people would have none of it.  “Crucify him!” they demanded.  Pilate then washed his hands of the whole affair, announcing his own innocence in the matter (vs. 24).  Pilate’s supposedly innocent hands then handed Jesus over to the people who willingly accepted the guilt.  They accepted the blood guilt, not only for themselves, but also for their children:  Generations unborn caught up in, and committed to, guilt over the blood of an innocent man.

You!  You, a member of this current sinful and adulterous generation, bear the blood guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, an innocent man.  In the imagery of the exodus from Egypt, the blood of an innocent lamb was smeared on the doorposts of the people’s homes.  That innocent blood turned aside the angel of death (Ex. 12:13).  You bear the blood guilt of killing the innocent man, Jesus the Paschal Lamb.  You wear that blood, and the angel of death passes over you.  So that, as Jesus declared to Martha, “…even though you die, yet shall you live” (cf. Jn. 11:25).  Without that guilt, and your bearing of it, death would be the end… the final end… of you.

Perhaps we should give thanks for those ancient exhorters, those chief priests and elders who worked up the crowd into a murderous frenzy.  Their persuasion and their exhortations so motivated the crowd that it would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus’ crucifixion.  That crowd took on blood guilt for Jesus and committed you of this sinful and adulterous generation to the same wearing of the blood (cf. 1 Pe. 1:18-19).

Table Talk:  Discuss the interconnectedness of blood, guilt, and forgiveness.
Pray:  Heavenly Father wash me clean in the blood of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Matthew 26:1-27:66 (Matthew 27:15-26 printed here)

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, 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 it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream. 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again 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 shouted all the more, Let him be crucified!

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves. 25 And all the people answered, His blood be on us and on our children! 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.