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So when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water, and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Bible

“but rather that a riot was starting.” Pilate did not want to put Jesus to death and tried to dissuade the Jews from pressing the issue. But the Jews used pressure tactics to get Pilate to order the crucifixion. They lied (Luke 23:2), threatened (John 19:12), and started a riot (Matt. 27:24). The riot would have been an important factor in Pilate giving in to the Jews and agreeing to crucify Jesus. As the Roman governor, Pilate was charged with two top responsibilities: keep tax money flowing into Rome, and keep the peace. Keeping the peace was important to the flow of tax money and the well-being of society. In Judea at that time there were the Jesus supporters, including his disciples and many who believed in him, but also many who sided with the religious leaders and thought Jesus was a fraud. As the day drew on and the crowd at the trial swelled, there was a growing danger that any riot would turn into a battle between the two sides with people being hurt and even killed, and Pilate would be held responsible. From his gubernatorial perspective, it was now expedient that Jesus be sentenced to be crucified. Pilate’s instincts were correct: as soon as the trial was over and the issue settled, the religious leaders stopped stirring up the people and the crowd dispersed.


Commentary for: Matthew 27:24