By Brooks Cochran

“So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it. And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. 27:24-25).

Note, in the verses above, two attitudes expressed toward accepting responsibility. Pilate wanted and tried to rid himself of any and all responsibility toward Jesus. The Jews were willing to accept that which Pilate wanted to “wash his hands” of; i.e. responsibility. In the end both were wrong for their actions.

There are two extremes, in this case, which should be avoided:

1. Pilate’s. Attempting to rid oneself of any and all responsibility he may feel he has and/or not accepting that which is his to do and cannot be transferred (cf. Gal. 6:5).

2. The Jew’s. Accepting any and all responsibility for some course of action without first considering the consequence (cf. Prov. 14:12). There is a safe course of action which lies between these two extremes.

One must realize that in his service to God, he cannot rid himself of that which he is responsible. The one talent man attempted to rid himself of his obligation to his master and in the end was punished (Matt. 25:24-30). “Pilate was warned by his sense of justice, he was warned by his conscience, he was warned by the dream of his troubled wife; but Pilate could not stand against the mob; and Pilate made the futile gesture of washing his hands” (William Barclay, Matthew, Vol. 2, p. 333). We cannot, like Pilate, just “wash our hands” of any and all obligations we have to the Lord and his cause. Yet, many are doing that very thing; thinking that compromise is the solution to doctrinal problems. They exhibit the fear of the one talent man and in the final day will be condemned.

One must examine the work and/or course of action for which he is willing to accept responsibility. He must be sure that it is the right course to follow. No doubt many of the Jews, on that occasion, were more than willing to accept responsibility for their conduct. Many were blindly following the crowd. However, they were still responsible and God held them accountable (cf. Acts 2:22-24,36-38; 3:13-17). Others, after some time, no longer wanted to accept the responsibility for their actions and became upset when thus accused (cf. Acts 5:27-28). But they were still responsible for their actions! Jesus warned of the consequences of blindly following the crowd (cf. Matt. 15:14).

Let us not be like Pilate or the Jews. Accept all responsibility that is expected of us; but only after we have made a careful examination that the course we intend to follow is right in God’s sight. To do otherwise will condemn us with Pilate and the Jews.

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 20, p. 619
October 15, 1992