Erich Lessing

Jesus washes his disciples’ feet in the leftmost relief on a fourth-century C.E. sarcophagus relief now in the Antiquities Museum in Arles, France; directly opposite this scene, on the right relief, Pilate extends his hands for them to be washed. According to Jensen, these two biblical scenes of cleansing were seen as mirroring each other, because they both symbolized baptism, innocence and the forgiveness of sins. The fourth-century church father Augustine even suggested that, by washing his hands of Jesus’ blood, Pilate was foretelling how Jesus’ blood would wash away the sins of the world.