"I am innocent" says Pilate (v24.) What a distorted seen! The truly and only innocent, the Son of God is standing there in silence. And his judge, who is truly guilty is loudly shifting blame and proclaiming that he is innocent.
How in the world could he convince himself that he is innocent when he knew: - the motivation behind why they want to kill Jesus - (v. 18. - "he knew that it was out of envy...") - the fact that Jesus was innocent - (v. 23. - "what evil has he done?"...) - that his wife got a godly message to stay away from this - (v. 19. - "have nothing to do with that righteous man...")
Pilate is a leader who knew the motivation, knew the facts, received godly warning but still decided to please men and thought he can remain innocent. He can't. Pilate had plenty of evidences, support and power to make the right decision. At that moment he was in charge and he was responsible. Nobody else was there to make that decision. Nobody else was there to be fully responsible. But he had ignored facts, motivations, godly warning and decided to give in to the pressure coming from the crowd and than shifted blame and responsibility. He shifted the blame on the circumstances and on the pressure. It's something we all face. The decision Pilate made seemed a democratic decision. There are definite dangers in democracy. A very democratic crowd crucified the Son of God. The danger of democracy is that the crowd can be persuaded by corrupt leaders. (See v. 20.)
We are fully equipped to be fully responsible. - God always (even at the most critical situations) gives enough evidences, support and power to help us to make the right decision. - Because God supplies everything we need to make the right decisions and act responsibly, we don't have any platform to point fingers, to shift blames, and to declare ourselves innocent. Circumstances, pressure from others are not an excuse not to make the right decisions and not to behave according the will if God.
The lack of owning responsibility (or finding excuses) leads to distorted view of self: "I am innocent." And not owning our true reality hinders us from finding true grace. Only when we are willing to face the brutal reality about ourselves we are able to start understanding wonderful reality of grace.
A truly repentant person doesn't seek any excuse, but fully owns his sin.