“A notable prisoner called Barabbas.” Matthew 27:15-24 KJV
“A notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.” Matthew 27:15-24 NASB
Pilate was in a bind. He had been pushed by the Jewish leaders into an uncomfortable corner. There was little love lost between the factions. The Jewish leaders hated Pilate and all he represented. The Romans disdained the Jews. Yet some coexistence was needed; and Pilate needed to save face.
His mind seized on the annual ritual as a way of escape. The feast meant releasing a guilty prisoner to the people. He would not have to quibble about this Man’s innocence. He could release Him as gesture of good will, satisfy the leader’s demand that He be proclaimed guilty, and soothe his own conscience as to the justice of the outcome.
To assure his success, Pilate chose the worst prisoner he had in his jail. Barabbas! Certainly there would be no question of whom the people would choose. But the leaders would have none of it. They persuaded the multitude to choose Barabbas. Pilate could not avoid the problem.
Questions to Consider:
- Matthew calls Barabbas a notable prisoner. Mark says that he was bound with them that made insurrection and who had committed murder. Luke says that it was for sedition and murder that he was in prison. John, who has already contrasted the Lord Jesus with thieves and robbers (John 10), tells us that they chose a robber (John 18:40). Can you think of why each Gospel introduces Barabbas as it does?
- Have you ever been passed over as someone else was chosen? It may have been in choosing sides for a game; perhaps for an assignment you really wanted. You may have been rejected in favor of another person by someone you liked. How did you feel? Suppose the person chosen instead of you was literally the worst imaginable character? By their actions, what would they be saying they thought of you? How do you think the Lord Jesus felt? Was He insensitive to their choice?
- Since that day, every human being has made a choice: Christ or …. ? When we choose our own will, we are making a choice of honoring Christ or self. How do you think He feels?