Intending to rid himself of the responsibility of Jesus’ death, Pilate assumed the people would choose Jesus over Barabbas to be the one prisoner released at that year’s Passover. Instead, the people chose to free a sinful criminal and condemn the sinless Messiah.
15 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”3 And the chief priests accused him of many things.4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.”5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
- After being betrayed and beaten throughout the night, Jesus is bound and delivered to Pilate early on Friday morning (15:1).
- As the governor, Pilate’s only concern is if Jesus is a threat to his control or his comfort (15:2-3).
- While Jesus has never been short on words, He is intentionally quiet throughout this entire proceeding (15:4-5).
- To seek favor with the people, Pilate would allow a criminal on death row to go free on the Passover (15:6).
- Barabbas was a guilty murderer whose crime was seeking to rid his life of unwanted authority (15:7).
- Out of all the men that could have been pitted against Jesus that day, Barabbas’ name means “Son of the Father.”
- Pilate’s question is the most appropriate to ask: “Why, what evil has He done?” (15:14).
- The sinner is cleared for salvation while the sinless is condemned for crucifixion (15:15).
- After almost beating him to death, the battalion’s attempt to humiliate him reveal the charges made against him (15:16).
- These Roman soldiers were unknowingly fulfilling Jewish prophecies about the Messiah (15:17-19).
- The righteous Son of the Father is condemned to die so that the rebellious son of the father can be forgiven to live (15:20).
- Jesus never attempted to be freed instead of Barabbas because He came for the purpose of securing freedom for Barabbas.
- Barabbas is a physical representation of a spiritual reality for every one of us.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.