John 18. 29-32 cont.
29 Then Pilate went outside and said to them: “What accusations do you bring against this Man?”
30 They answered and said: “If He was not doing evil we would not have handed Him over to you.”
31 Then Pilate said to them: “ You take Him and judge Him according to your Law.” They said to Him: “It is not lawful for us to kill anyone.”
32 This fulfilled the word of Jesus said when He spoke about the kind of death He was to die.
There is the well known expression: ‘passing the buck’. Its’ meaning is to pass on to someone else the responsibilities that belong to us.
When Pilate told the Jews to take Jesus and judge Him according to their Law he was ‘passing the buck’. He was doing so because he didn’t want to take the responsibility of convicting a man to death, whom he suspected was innocent.
Perhaps Pilate thought that there could have been the repercussion of more unrest by condemning Jesus. He would not have been unaware of the popularity of Jesus as the crowds welcomed His arrival into the city just a few days earlier.
Those crowds were probably still in their beds.
Maybe Pilate was concerned of the actions of those crowds when they awoke to learn of the execution of their popular hero. Therefore, maybe Pilate thought that if it was the Jews who killed Jesus, then he could claim no part in it. Also, if there was any future trouble between the people and their leaders, then he could justifiable use the might of Rome to crush any such trouble.
Whatever Pilate was thinking it is clear he wanted to take no part in condemning Jesus to death.
Therefore, he sought to ‘pass the buck’ by giving the responsibility of judgement to the Jews.
The other gospels record how Pilate ‘washed his hands’ to show that he was ‘passing the buck’, and that he abdicated any responsibility in condemning Jesus to a Roman execution.
For this he has often been portrayed as being weak. However, as we have just seen, it is also possible to see that Pilate was being politically astute.
‘Passing the buck’ can be a good thing if it means the delegation of responsibilities in order to release others into being able to achieve their potential. This is important within industry, and politics.
It can also be a good and necessary thing within the church as responsibility is given to others to enable the Body of Jesus to do the work to which we are called.
Jesus passed responsibility onto His disciples when He sent them out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.
The difference is that when Jesus ‘passes the buck’ He passes on to us not just the responsibility to do something, but also the power to accomplish the task.