15 At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you —Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Messiah ?” 18 For he knew they had handed Him over because of envy. 19 While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” 20 The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. 21 The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” “Barabbas!” they answered. 22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Messiah?” They all answered, “Crucify Him!” 23 Then he said, “Why? What has He done wrong?” But they kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” all the more. 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
6 At the festival it was Pilate’s custom to release for the people a prisoner they requested. 7 There was one named Barabbas, who was in prison with rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion. 8 The crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do for them as was his custom. 9 So Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews for you?” 10 For he knew it was because of envy that the chief priests had handed Him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd so that he would release Barabbas to them instead. 12 Pilate asked them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the One you call the King of the Jews?” 13 Again they shouted, “Crucify Him!” 14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why? What has He done wrong?” But they shouted, “Crucify Him!” all the more. 15 Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You have brought me this man as one who subverts the people. But in fact, after examining Him in your presence, I have found no grounds to charge this man with those things you accuse Him of. 15 Neither has Herod, because he sent Him back to us. Clearly, He has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will have Him whipped and then release Him.” [17 For according to the festival he had to release someone to them.] 18 Then they all cried out together, “Take this man away! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (He had been thrown into prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify! Crucify Him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What has this man done wrong? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have Him whipped and then release Him.” 23 But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand 25 and released the one they were asking for, who had been thrown into prison for rebellion and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.
39 You have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. 2 The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. 3 And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face. 4 Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.” 7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. 9 He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?” 11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!” 13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement ( but in Hebrew Gabbatha ). 14 It was the preparation day for the Passover , and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!” 15 But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered. 16 So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Pilate asked them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the One you call the King of the Jews?”
Again they shouted, “Crucify Him!”
Then Pilate said to them, “Why? What has He done wrong?”
But they shouted, “Crucify Him!” all the more.
Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
All of Jerusalem was in an uproar. The Pharisees were willing to do anything to rid their community of this blasphemer—who also happened to be a threat to their power. The people were terrified that Jesus would somehow bring down upon them another display of the wrath of Caesar. Pilate was desperately trying to find some middle ground, some way to avoid being responsible for the death of a Man he knew was innocent.
But what seemed to be the height of chaos was very clear and orderly to Satan. He understood that the best way to secure his rule on earth—and also the most effective way to retaliate against the God who had rejected him—was the removal forever of the human Jesus from the planet. That this process involved such humiliation and torture was simply icing on a diabolical cake.
What he couldn’t see—what Jesus’ own disciples couldn’t see—was that these events were only a small but very significant scene in a much larger drama, written from the beginning of time by God Himself. It was only a matter of months later, however, when it all became clear to the followers of Christ.
“When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, ‘Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant:
Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples plot futile things?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the rulers assembled together
against the Lord and against His Messiah.
“For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate , with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:24-28).
Ah, yes. It was God’s perfect plan all along. Jesus was at complete peace in the hour of His trial, knowing fully (as He told Pilate), “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11).
Can we find that peace as well in the upcoming hours of our own testing? Can we realize that the “kings of the earth” only do what God has predestined them to do? Can we see through the dusts of our dying culture a glimpse of God’s glorious triumph?
Or will we, like the people in Jesus’ day, only know and fear the cruel hand of Caesar? When the crunch comes—and I honestly believe many of us will live to see chaos much like that which overtook Jerusalem—will we be so eager to preserve our tranquility, security, and comfort that we too will trade the Son of God for the Barabbases of our own priorities and desires?
It’s an eternally significant question, one which each of us may well have to answer.
- Where do you see specific patterns in our society that reflect (or indeed, are directly prompted by) Satan’s utter contempt for the authority of God? Why is it so important for the church to have a clear understanding of both the necessity for and the holiness of properly administered authority?
- In the days and hours leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, many people were directly responsible for what ultimately took place, including Judas, the Jews, Caiaphas, Pilate, and of course the crowds. But in Luke 23:34 Jesus asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t really know what they were doing. We now understand that Jesus was the Son of God who was being punished for our sin. Do we therefore deserve a stronger judgment if we still choose to reject Him?
- The concept of submission is often held in low regard by many people today, who see it as an indication of weakness or inadequate self-esteem. How does Christ’s modeling of pure submission to the will of His Father actually demonstrate both strength and healthy self-esteem? What can we learn from His example?