Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. — John 19:16
So we see the sad and terrible end of Pilate’s weak struggles with his conscience and his sense of right. He first tried every way to avoid the issue; then he temporized, hoping in some manner to get free from responsibility. At last he yielded; and his name goes through history pilloried for ever as the man who delivered Jesus to be crucified. He is known by no other act. It had been a thousand times better for him if he had remained for ever in obscurity, instead of going to that high place of power where he had to meet and deal with this momentous question of history.
We read that Pilate took water in the presence of the Jews and washed his hands, — thus by symbol declaring that he was not responsible for the sentencing of Jesus to die. But the water did not wash away one particle of the stain of the guilt of that terrible sin. Pilate had the misfortune to be the only man in all the province who could send Jesus to the cross. Upon him, therefore, the final responsibility rested, no matter the pressure that was brought to bear upon him by the enemies of Jesus. The fact that others urge us to sin does not take away our guilt for that sin. No being in the universe can compel us to do wrong; if, then, we do wrong, the sin is our own.
We remember that the Jews responded to Pilate’s act of washing his hands, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” No one who has read the story of the next forty years can doubt that their self-imprecation was fulfilled. Thirty years later thousands of the best people of the Jews were crucified. The crime of the Jews was successful; but what came of the success in the end? Let us learn the lesson that sin brings always terrible woe, and that the worst of all sins is sin against the Lord Jesus Christ.