Reading: Luke 23:13-25
Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner. But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will. [NASB1995®]
From Pilate to Herod, and back to Pilate. Neither of them wants to take responsibility for making the decision, but the pressure from the Jewish leaders does not let up. They want Jesus to die.
Although Pilate admits that neither he nor Herod find Jesus guilty, he ends up yielding and giving the priests what they want: a cross, an unjust death.
Those who do not want to have anything to do with it: The two rulers who appear on the scene do not want to be responsible for the death of Jesus (his innocence and authority are evident). The truth, however, is that no one can remain indifferent to Jesus. Believing, or saying, that “one has nothing to do with it” can assuage the conscience, but the truth is that both Pilate and Herod, and everyone who tries to remain distant from Jesus, are rejecting him, and condemning themselves (John 3:18).
Those who are blinded by hatred: The priests, scribes and Pharisees also know that Jesus is an innocent man, and they are even forced to seek false witnesses and lie to condemn him. The problem is that they are blind: blinded by hatred and blinded by their sin. Three times Pilate tells them that Jesus is innocent, that he is willing to forgive him (of whatever fault for which they are accusing Him) because of the Passover. They are increasingly demanding. And they reach the most absolute irrationality. They ask for the release of a known criminal: Barabbas. How can such madness, such blindness be understood?
Barabbas: I do not want to fall into a forced interpretation of Barabbas, but there are some aspects I would like to highlight. For example, the fact that Barabbas receives freedom without seeking it and without deserving it. He should not be freed, but he is free, and it is Jesus who receives the condemnation. In some ways, this criminal benefits greatly from the fact that Jesus is condemned. This does not mean that he has become a believer, of course, but makes him similar to ourselves in some sense.
None of the protagonists of these events seek Jesus, on the contrary, they reject him, both the indifferent and those who hate him. Even Barabbas was not a believer. And the truth is that this is our natural attitude toward Jesus. None of us seek Him (Romans 3:11).
That makes the miracle of the Gospel even more precious: God approaching us, becoming flesh, shedding His blood, showing grace and mercy toward men.
MEDITATE: We should never cease to be surprised that even in our rebellion and rejection of the truth God wants to transform our hard hearts so that we can live.
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Translation By: Emily Stader