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Matthew 27:24. So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands.
The spiritual heart of this story, and a key to almost every pain our Lord experiences, is shifting the human eye and attention from principle to politics, from truth to crowd pleasing. John the Baptist was executed by Herod because he did not want to be embarrassed before his guests (Matthew 14:9). Peter’s water-walking ended when he turned his attention from Jesus to the wind and waves (Matthew 14:30). In the same manner, Pilate knew the innocence of Jesus, but the roar of the crowd distracted him.
We sometimes tell ourselves that we do not know the right thing to do. Quite often the real truth is that we know perfectly well what is right, but we are distracted by other demands. If doing the obvious right thing were easy, we would not have to work so hard at following Christ. Herod would have left John the Baptist alone, Peter would have walked to Capernaum, and Jesus would have been set free. But it is hard to do the truth. Not because it is hard to see, but because our distractions make it hard to do.