An Obvious Choice?
Daily Reading and Devotional from the Gospels
11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Pilate was not known for compassion nor had he shown a great concern for justice. He was a cruel politician who would normally do just about anything for personal and political gain. So why did he seem so concerned about Jesus? Matthew tells us in verse 19. His wife had a dream about Jesus and she warned him to have nothing to do with this plot against Christ. I am not sure if Pilate was superstitious or just hen-pecked (I suspect both were true) but he listened to her warnings and tried to do everything he could to avoid killing Jesus. Well, he did everything he could without further damaging his relationship with the Jewish leaders who were insisting on the crucifixion. He could have done the right thing and let the innocent man go free but not without damage to himself politically. One of his attempts at swaying the passions of the people away from killing Christ was to offer a choice, a pardon of a prisoner of their choosing. He would give them the choice but would make the decision easy so they would certainly choose Christ. The options were between Jesus, the innocent and good with the alternate choice being a bad man known to be guilt of multiple crimes, Barabbas. Barabbas was a robber according to Jn 18:40, an insurrectionist and worse yet a murderer according to Mark and Luke (Mk 15:7; Lk 23:18-19). Surely, they would choose to have Jesus free among them. He would do good, heal and help them. Nobody would want a murderer in their midst right? So, Pilate gave them their choice. Who will die, the man that deserves it or the one that doesn’t? Who will the people pick to go free? Barabbas. They chose the innocent to suffer while letting a guilty man go free. Am I shocked? No, frankly the crowds never pick Jesus. The road to Hell is wide and the one to Heaven is narrow. Follow the majority and you will usually go the wrong way, especially when it pertains to the Lord. I wonder what Barabbas thought? I think I know well. You see, I too was guilty and deserved death. I too was given freedom at another’s expense. Barabbas and I have a lot in common. He and I were both released from the penalty we deserved because of the very same man. Jesus took our place.