11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 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!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 
The phrase that jumps out at me today is the response of the crowd to Pilate when he declares himself innocent of the blood of Jesus. “His blood is on us and on our children,” they respond. The apparent meaning of the claim is that they are taking responsibility for Jesus’ death.
Sadly, this statement has been taken by misguided and hateful Christians (an oxymoron in itself) as justification for persecution of Jewish people. After all, it is claimed, they took responsibility and invited the guilt to be upon them, so they are rightly called “Christ-killers” and treated accordingly. But this interpretation and application displays unconscionably bad theology, and is in fact a denial of what Christianity is all about.
The truth is that the crowd is not representative of Jewish people in particular, but all humanity in general. Because of my sins, I am as much responsible for Jesus’ death as Caiaphas or anyone else in the crowd. Jesus died because of my selfishness and pride and idolatry. His blood is on me because I am responsible for his death. I cannot excuse myself of my guilt by trying to assign it to Jewish people or anyone else, in the same way that Pilate could not excuse his guilt by washing it away with water and passing it on to the crowd. I am guilty of the death of Christ.
But in light of the gospel, these words take on a double meaning, which I am sure was on Matthew’s mind when he included this in his gospel. Matthew had just written in 26:28 in his description of the Last Supper these words of Jesus: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The blood of Jesus is upon me, not as accusation for my guilt regarding Jesus’ death, but rather for the forgiveness of my sins.
So the statement from the crowd takes on a rich, ironic, gospel-saturated meaning. The blood of Jesus is on the crowd, and upon all humanity, and upon you and men. Not in accusation, but in forgiveness. This is why He came. This is why He died.
So my prayer today is simply one of thanksgiving to my Savior for His great mercy and grace, in forgiving me and all the rest of us who were responsible for His death.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
To subscribe to Abide Daily Devotion e-mail please click here