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?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 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.” Matthew 27:17-19
The trial of Jesus brought anguish to a number of people, some of them central to the story and some of them minor players. I wrote about this here. This is as it should be. The death of an innocent person ought to disturb everyone, but the death of the Perfect Man, the Son of God and Savior of the world should rock our world. Pilate, his wife, Judas, Peter, and the other disciples all displayed a wide range of emotional reactions from confusion to fear to depression.
His blood be on us!
But the crowds, led by the chief priests and elders, stiffened their resolve to have Jesus crucified. When they cried, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25), they meant they were willing to bear any guilt should this prove to be an unjust sentence. They did not know that His blood was the payment for the sins of all His people, all who would repent and believe in Him. Indeed, we need His blood upon us to be saved.
Only a few hours earlier, Jesus had celebrated the Passover with His disciples. At one point, He took a cup, gave thanks for it and gave it to them with these words: “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).
We share the same guilt of those who cried, “His blood be upon us” for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). His blood is upon us, but by faith it is upon us as a covering for our sin not as a further evidence of our sin.
The thought of blood should get our attention, reminding us of our complicity in the death of Christ, but also, if we believe, of our reconciliation with God through that blood. If you trust His blood, His death, rejoice in God’s great mercy to us, guilty sinners. Hallelujah! What a Savior.
For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.