I am struck by the utter irony of this passage:
“So what shall I do with Jesus the so-called Messiah?” asked Pilate.
“Let him be crucified!” they all said.
“Why?” asked Pilate. “What’s he done wrong?”
But they shouted all the louder, “Let him be crucified!”
Pilate saw that it was no good. In fact, there was a riot brewing. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m not guilty of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.”
“Let his blood be on us!” answered all the people, “and on our children!” (27:22-25)
Of course, the crowd means they will gladly take the guilt of killing Jesus. His death is justified. He is a law-breaker and blasphemer. He incites riots and disturbs the peace. Look at the company he keeps: he likely has some hidden sin. If he really is God’s son then he can save himself. But he won’t. This guy is a ruffian. We’ll answer for spilling his blood.
The irony is that by the end of the day that is exactly what happened. Jesus’ shed blood was potentially “upon them and their children,” but not at all in the way they had imagined. That blood signified redemption and atonement. It meant they all had the potential to be saved by the very man they had crucified. And if they accepted that invitation that blood would wash away their sins. Were some of these same people among the 3000 saved on Pentecost forty days later?
What an amazing reminder of the grace of God! He gives them what they want, and so much more!