Mar. 18, 2012
With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.”
Jesus has been taken back to Pilate. Pilate sees no reason to kill Jesus. He’s gone through the due diligence to see if Jesus is guilty of the crimes the Jewish authorities have proclaimed. Not only does he see no basis, neither did Herod. According to Deuteronomy 19:15, “two witnesses,” by two authorities, one Roman and one Palestinian would also have given testimony. Still, there is not sufficient evidence for execution in a capital criminal case. Pilate has told the crowd that he will punish him and let him go.
Release is not what the crowd wants. The crowd goes into an uproar. We’re told the crowd spoke as if with one voice. Release a different man, the one named Barabbas, they plead.
We know very little of this man. Luke tells us he was a murderer. Matthew’s gospel calls him notorious prisoner and John’s gospel calls him a robber. It appears that he is well-known to the crowd. What we do know is that he’s an awful enough criminal that his reputation is well-known.
Who would we choose to be killed? Jesus or Jeffery Dahmer? Jesus or Adolf Hitler? Jesus or Saddam Hussein? Jesus or anyone else?
Imagine the crowd being less afraid of Dahmer than Jesus; willing to release Hitler than Jesus; take their chances with Hussein rather than Jesus. They’d rather take their chances with a harden criminal than allow Jesus to heal people on the Sabbath. Jesus is the worse of the worst? That’s what it seems the crowd thought.
But then again, when you are the Messiah, things don’t always make sense.
Let us pray: Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree! At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away; it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day. Amen.