Pilate walked out to the chief priests and elders. “I find no fault in this man.”
An elder pushed his way through to the front of the group. “This man must be stopped. He’s stirring up the people all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.”
Pilate stood straight up.”You say He’s from Galilee.” He turned to his aide. “Isn’t Herod nearby?”
The aide nodded. “Yes, Sir. He’s here for the Passover crowds.”
Pilate turned to the crowd. “I shall send Jesus to Herod for his verdict.”
As Jesus was ushered away Pilate sat in the judgement seat to sort his options. The early morning crowds were already thicker than a normal Jerusalem afternoon. The larger the crowds the closer he knew he was to danger.
His aide hurried to Pilate’s side. “Your wife wishes to see you immediately. She says it concerns Jesus.”
Pilate stood. He walked from the chair to the doorway his wife stood in. “How does she know who I’m judging this morning?”
As he approached he noticed her shaking hands and pale face. “Have you not eaten?”
She held a hand out to him. “I can’t eat. I’ve had the most vividly horrible dreams concerning Jesus. Have nothing to do with that just man.”
Her eyes rolled back as she fell backward. Her lady-in-waiting placed herself under her to break her fall. Pilate closed the door and paced the judgement hall.
Within an hour Jesus was back in Pilate’s presence. A smile pulled the right corner of Pilate’s lip up as he saw the purple robe Jesus had on. He turned to Herod’s messenger. “Well, what’s Herod’s verdict?”
The man stood straight. “He finds nothing deserving of death, and he wants you to join him for lunch.”
Pilate rocked back. “Well, at least I get a lunch at Herod’s expense out of this. Very well, tell him I will join him at mid-day.”
After Herod’s aide left Pilate stared at Jesus. How can such an ordinary man cause so much commotion?
He turned and approached the Jews assembled. “I have found nothing wrong with Jesus, and Herod’s examination is united with mine. You have a custom that I release a prisoner to you on your Passover. Shall I release your king?”
“NO!” The cry was in unison.
A short priest stepped forward. “Release to us Barabbas.”
Pilate studied the man. “The insurrectionists found guilty of murder?” Pilate turned to his aide.
The aide nodded. “He is scheduled for crucifixion today.”
Pilate paused. “We’ll let the people decide.” He turned to the guard. “Bring Barabbas here at once.”
When Barabbas entered the judgement hall Pilate had him placed on the left side of the throne, Jesus was put on his right. The knot in Pilate’s stomach tightened when he saw the chief priests and elders mingled in the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is customary for me to release to you one prisoner during Passover. I will let you decide. Do you want Barabbas found guilty of insurrection and murder?” Pilate waved his right arm. “Or, Jesus who claims to be your king?”
The mixed response was quickly drowned out by the vehement cries of the leaders and others who joined them. “We want Barabbas! Free Barabbas!”
Silence came when Pilate stood. “What then shall I do with Jesus?”
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate stepped forward. “Why? What has He done?”
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate motioned for the wash basin to be brought over to him. The water was poured over his hands. “I wash my hands of this deed. His blood is on your hands.”
Pilate turned to his guard. “Free Barabbas, have Jesus scourged and crucified.”
How many times have you shaken your head when you read this account? I know I have. How could anybody in their right mind choose a murderer over a miracle worker?
Pilate’s experience with crowds told him that it was often expedient to please the crowd than to do what was right. Especially since ‘pax Romana’ was the rule of the day. The Roman peace was revered to the point of worship. It was one of the benefits of Jesus coming to earth when He did. Travel safety made the spread of the gospel easier as it took root.
Have you ever put yourself in Barabbas’s sandals in this incident? One minute he’s setting in jail awaiting a crucifixion he knew he deserved. The next thing he knows his shackles are removed and he’s told to leave. How could the fates be so favorable?
I learned an interesting thing about the name Barabbas a few Easters ago. My pastor says its more of a title than an actual name. ‘Bar’ is the Hebrew term for ‘the son of’. I recall the old KJV used the term Simon Bar Jonah when it introduced Simon Peter, Simon the son of Jonah. Abba was the Hebrew equivalent of Daddy in our day. It would be one of the first sounds a baby would make as they learn to speak, and the term stuck. So the literal translation of Barabbas is ‘son of Dad’.
Do you see the significance of the name? It wasn’t so much an actual person as it is a generic term for each one of us. In a very real sense that is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross. He took our place in the most literal meaning of the term… you and I deserved the death He died.
If you wish to receive the peace of God you must put yourself in Barabbas’s place. Admit your sin and your deserving of expulsion from the presence of a perfect God for eternity. Then accept the offer to place your own sins on Jesus as He died on the cross. That’s the reason He suffered as He did, but the choice is left up to you.
Take His offer and my closing is for you.
I’ll see you later. Wade