John 19: 1-5
The Innocence Slips Away
After the scourging that Jesus endured, Pilate again confirms his belief in Jesus's innocence. Pilate seems to hope that the Jewish leaders will be satisfied to see Jesus in this condition.
He is wrong.
Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus called Messiah?” - Matthew 27: 15-17
The place you are in is dark...damp...cold...and smells. You can't remember how long you've been here. You only know that when you leave this place, it will be to die.
Perhaps today will be that day.
They grab you!.......drag you along the way, up some steps...into the bright and piercing morning light. You struggle to regain your senses as you hear the sound of a large crowd.
They seem angry.
They are shouting.
So many angry voices, you cannot make out what they are shouting. What is going on?
Oh........it's Pilate. You're standing in front of Pilate.
So, this is it after all. Today is the day you're going to die.
Ghost of a Chance
“Which one do you want me to release to you...........Barabbas....."
Wait! Did he just ask about releasing someone, and then mention your name as a choice? He did!
Maybe they will pick you!
"Maybe they will pick me! Please choose me!" must have been racing through the mind of Barabbas.
But those hope must have faded quickly as Pilate announced:
"......or Jesus called Messiah?”
If Barabbas had heard anything of Jesus, and he probably did, he would certainly have thought his days were over.
"Jesus. The one people have been talking about? The one who makes the deaf hear....the blind see...the lame walk? The one I've heard has even brought people back....from the dead?"
"Today IS the day I'm going to die."
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted again, “Crucify him.” Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” - Mark 15: 11-14What must have been going through Barabbas's mind, knowing that Jesus was about to take his place on the cross?
And I wonder what Pilate was thinking as well. In John's Gospel, even after Barabbas is released, Pilate is still trying to free Jesus. But Pilate has a weakness, and the Jewish leaders know it....Caeser.
Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” - John 19:12Now that was just too much for Pilate. The not-so-veiled threat there was that it would get back to Caser that Pilate allowed a man who claimed to be rival to Caeser live. Perhaps Pilate would lose his own power. Perhaps it would mean even death for Pilate.
The Larger Bowl
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” - Matthew 27: 24, 25
Thank you Jesus, your Blood IS upon us and our children.
Back on that retreat many years ago, it was proposed that Barabbas, curious as to the fate of the one taking his place, followed Jesus on the road to Calvary. My own human inclinations tell me that this is quite likely.
If you were Barabbas, would you have followed? If you did, what would you have seen?
It's Holy Week, and as I stated last Friday, my posts this week will be about the Passion of Jesus through the eyes of the witnesses.
Let's make the journey together. Along the way, I hope we are asking ourselves some tough questions. Who are you in the Passion of the Christ?
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