Fri Feb 27 Q. 58: Condemnation and Innocence of Jesus
58. But Pilate pronounced Him innocent, and therefore did not condemn Him as if He were worthy of death (Matt. 27:24; Luke 23:14).
Both were involved. He was justified by the testimony of the judge, to show that He did not suffer for His own unworthiness but for ours and yet He was solemnly condemned by the sentence of the same judge, to show that He is truly our surety, receiving condemnation for us in order to acquit us from it.
As a father of five children, I have been confronted with the dilemmas of not knowing who the guilty party in a sibling conflict is, and of who first broke a house rule only to have one of the other then follow. I cannot see with omniscience or omnipresence, so I have to sort out details by asking what happened to two or three of the sibling witnesses to an event. As I get close to a conclusion on the identity of the perpetrator and pronouncement of initial judgment, is then that the pleas with tears begin: “It wasn’t me, daddy! It wasn’t me! He did it!” “No, I didn’t! She did it!”
At this point, there is a danger for me. I do not want to punish the wrong child for the lawbreaking incident. (It really takes the wisdom of Solomon in these matters—I “divide the baby” by the examination of the responses as I get closer to judgment. If I have the guilty party right, he/she does not gloat or show callousness at the sign of the punishment going to the other.) When I get it right, the confession often comes willingly after the discipline has been meted out. I also see a sigh of relief on the timid face of the other child as he/she avoids being convicted and sentenced for a crime he/she did not commit.
Humankind would like to cry out to the Creator, “We did not do it!” We have the First Century crowd to thank for saying it on our behalf, and then saying “no, blame that innocent man named ‘Jesus!’” He was innocent, without fault, always doing his Father’s will. Yet, instead of pointing the finger back to us so that we might be punished, he let the words and actions of Pilate stand and he received the judgment of condemnation for innocence. In his innocence, he took our full judgment on the Cross – wounds, stripes, and “the iniquity of us all” included. We, therefore, having been given grace to plea for mercy through him, walk away free from sin, sighing with fear as we have avoided the eternal wrath of God.
Recommended Reading: J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement (Crossway, 2008).