Day 39 - Maundy Thursday

Day 39 - Maundy Thursday

Written by: Joy Hardin

Matthew 27:1-2, 15-26, NLT
Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. 2 Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. 15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” 20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” 24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” 25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

Maundy Thursday is Jesus’ last full day on earth before His crucifixion. Matthew 27 begins with “when morning came.” What if you knew it was your last day? What would you do? Who would you tell? In the morning Jesus was taken to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. By this time Jesus had already been beaten, mocked, and denied by his closest friends. When the Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to the Roman governor, it was clear they wanted Him to suffer the death penalty.
When I think of all Jesus suffered for me, I grieve inside. I wish I could take back all my sin so He wouldn’t have to suffer and die. But I can’t. I’m flawed, frail, and weak. I desperately need what He alone could do, and that is, pay for my sin through His sacrifice on the cross. 

Matthew 27:1-32 records the interaction between Jesus and Pilate, which is full of contradictions and irony.

Jesus stood condemned, and although he had the ability and every reason to, he did not try to escape. Pilate tried to escape making a decision about Jesus, yet it is recorded in history in the oldest Christian creed (“The Apostles’ Creed”) that “Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate.”

Pilate believed he was judging Jesus, yet Jesus was allowing Pilate to be the vessel to fulfill His Father’s plan. 1 Peter 4:5 tells us that Jesus will one day judge the living and the dead, and that includes Pilate. (See also John 5:22). J. Vernon McGee wrote, “Careful analysis of Pilate’s part in the trial will reveal he was on trial and Jesus was the Judge.”

Thinking to rid his guilt of Jesus’ blood, Pilate made a big show of washing his hands and pronounced himself innocent. In his regret, Judas called Jesus innocent. Pilate’s wife considered Jesus innocent. In Luke 23:4 Pilate himself claimed, “I find no guilt in this man” (ESV). Although Pilate proclaimed himself innocent of Jesus’ blood, he was still guilty. In fact, all of us are guilty and we all need a Savior, a spotless Sacrifice, and only Jesus is worthy. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (NLT).

The irony that Pilate tried to save Jesus and convince the crowds to call for Barabas to be crucified should not be overlooked. Only Jesus could save Pilate, yet in his pride in thinking he had authority, and rejecting Jesus’ sacrifice, Pilate sentenced himself to death and hell. Tradition has it that Pilate was either executed or committed suicide following a merciless rule of bribery, corruption, and violence. Pilate had been warned by his wife not to have anything to do with Jesus. Ignoring his wife and to please the people, Pilate sent Jesus, the only one who could save him, away to be crucified.

What do you believe about Jesus? Have you tried to escape making a decision about Him? If that’s true, you have already made a decision by not following Him. (See Matthew 12:30.)
When you stand before God to be judged, will He see you as washed in Jesus’ blood?
Knowing that you are not innocent but that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT), have you trusted Him for salvation?
If you’re not sure where you stand with Jesus, make a decision to follow Him completely today. Reach out to anyone on staff at Church at the Grove with your questions and tell them of your decision to follow Jesus.

If you have followed Jesus, take a few minutes to think about what you believe about Him. The Apostles Creed begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord….”  It goes on to proclaim the deity of Christ through the virgin birth, that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead….” Take time to write your own creed, defining for yourself what you believe about Jesus. Spend time reading through God’s word and write down a few verses to include in your declaration.

Father, thank you that you sent your Son to be the sacrifice for me. I am sorry, Jesus, that You had to suffer, but I am so thankful that You did so I could have life in You.