by Peeter Lukas
“Wash your hands! Wash your hands!” I suppose you’re hearing those words a lot these days. I used to hear them from my mom a lot too. I kept thinking, “But they’re not dirty – well, not that dirty. Besides, it’s dinner time, and I’m not going to eat with my hands anyway.”
In Matthew 27:24 we read of a famous hand washing: “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’”
What was Pilate trying to do? Did he succeed? (Parents, you might provide other true life examples of how people today try to “wash their hands” by shifting blame and responsibility to others.)
Now here’s a tougher question: Can you think of another Bible example of a person washing his hands? (Hint: It’s in the Old Testament.) Look at Exodus 30:17-21: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.’”
What’s happening in these verses and why? (Mom and Dad can help.) It’s the ceremonial cleaning of Aaron and his sons, the high priests. They must cleanse themselves before coming into God’s presence.
What’s so very different between Pilate cleaning his hands and the high priest cleaning his hands and his feet? The high priest knew and owned his sins, and he most wanted the communion of God. Whereas Pilate refused to take responsibility for his sins. He said “It’s your problem” to the crowds.
All of the book of Hebrews says that Jesus is the BEST High Priest. Grab a Bible and read Hebrews 9:11-14 and Hebrews 10:11-14. Why is Jesus better than the Old Testament priests? (Answer: “he entered once for all…by means of his own blood…he sat down at the right hand of God…by a single offering he has perfected for all time…”)
And what didn’t Jesus do that Pilate tried to do and that the Old Testament priest did all the time? (Answer: He didn’t wash his hands!) Why? (He didn’t need to; He was perfect and clean of all sin!)
Kids, when Mom and Dad say, “Wash your hands”, listen and obey. Parents can see germs far better than you can. But what about the “dirty hands” of our sinful hearts? That can only be cleansed by Jesus. He was perfectly clean. In His death He washed us, and by His resurrection He proved that it was done.