No matter who wins an election, it won’t take long for people who voted for the losing candidate to sport shirts saying, “Don’t blame me, I voted for <insert name of losing candidate here>.” We don’t want the finger of blame to point at us for any reason and we try to deflect it. The old iMac used to tell you that something was wrong with the computer with a voice message that said, “It’s not my fault” as it proceeded to tell you what was wrong. If you ever heard it, you may have thought that the computer was blaming you for its inability to function. People testifying before Congress try to appear innocent by shifting the blame to others. Family Circus, an old comic strip, made a couple of ghosts famous as the kids blamed every catastrophe on “Ida Know” and “Not me.”
Escaping blame is a time honored human tradition. In fact, the first blame shift may have been the greatest of all time as Adam did a double shift when asked about eating the forbidden fruit: “That woman that you gave me God….” Eve blamed the serpent. But everyone suffered. Aaron tried to escape blame by noting that he threw all the gold into the fire, and out popped a golden calf. After Jesus was brought to Pilate, he tried to find a way to release Jesus but was unsuccessful in getting the crowd to agree. So, he sought to escape the blame. “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” (Matthew 27:24)
Pilate may have been able to wear a “Don’t blame me, I voted for Barabbas” T-shirt to work the next day, but the truth is that he was guilty of putting Jesus to death. If you think about it, the Jews in the mob at least accepted responsibility for what happened when they said “His blood be on us and our children.” Ultimately, though, the human agent with the power to stop this crucifixion from happening was Pilate. It may have caused a riot, but he could have kept Jesus alive. The theological problem that would have caused, though, is momentous. God’s plan was for Jesus to die for the sins of all mankind. If Pilate had shown the courage that a public official should have shown and released Jesus, Jesus would still have to die. Because sin. Because my sin. In fact, it’s easy for me to sit here some 2000 years after the fact and write about how terrible Pilate was while forgetting that the reason Jesus was sent to earth to die for all mankind was to bring about forgiveness of sin. It was sin that sent Jesus to the cross. Pilate may have had water to wash his hands, but I as a sinner can’t just put the blame on Pilate and the Jewish leaders. Because of my sin, you can say that I used the hammer to pound the nails into Jesus.
What amazing grace God has shown us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because Jesus paid the penalty for sin, I can have a relationship with God. My sin has been washed away – not by mere handwashing water, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. That washing away is permanent. The requirement I had to meet was to stop shifting blame for my sin and to acknowledge that I am a sinner and that the only way that sin could be forgiven was through the blood of Jesus. I’m still not perfect, but I’m forgiven by God and He gives me strength to overcome the power of sin when I trust Him.
Oh God, thank You for Your gift of forgiveness. I did nothing to deserve Your forgiveness; I did everything to need it. Remind me of how much grace You have shown me every day and then help me to show Your grace and unconditional love to others I contact throughout the day.