Today’s Reading: Luke 23-24
Today’s Reflection: Luke 23:18-25
18) But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19) a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20) Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21) but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22) A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23) But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24) So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25) He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
During Passover it was customary for the Roman authorities to release one condemned prisoner. Jesus had been arrested during this time. Pilate, knowing Jesus was innocent, hoped to release Him. But the crowd demanded the release of another man. A man named Barabbas. Far more than just being a random act to ensure Jesus would remain condemned, the choice to release Barabbas was very telling about what the Pharisees and many other Jews desired in their Messiah.
Barabbas was a Zealot. He advocated for a violent overthrow of Judea’s Roman oppressors. And his actions backed up his beliefs. Barabbas had been convicted of insurrection and murder, so clearly he was willing to go to any lengths to secure freedom for his people.
THIS was the kind of Messiah the Jews had been looking for. A Messiah who would bring about the punishment promised to the wicked on the day of the Lord and restore Israel to prominence among all of the world’s nations. This desire even resided in the apostles, to a degree.
Acts 1:6 – So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
What most Jews were not looking for was a Messiah who spoke of peace or a kingdom to come. Not a Messiah who, though incredibly powerful, resisted becoming their king, their military leader against the Romans.
John 6:15 – Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
The Pharisees case was simple: The Messiah couldn’t be someone as concerned with the salvation of their Roman oppressors (or the half-breed traitor Samaritans, or the licentious Greeks) as with that of the Jews. God’s people were being held down by the Romans and the Messiah they were looking for was the one who would put an end to it, by any means necessary. Someone like Barabbas.
What they didn’t see was that they were just as deserving of punishment as their enemies. They didn’t see that the same judgment they used against others would be used against them.
Matthew 7:1-2 – 1) “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2) For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
What they didn’t see was that taking vengeance upon themselves would lead them to their own destruction.
Romans 12:18-19 – 18) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19) Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
What they didn’t understand was that the vengeance they wanted was not the salvation they needed. So they released a criminal and condemned the savior of the world to death.
When we examine our walk with God, what we want from Him and what we’re willing to do for Him, are we doing the same? What does our Messiah look like?
Matthew 16:13-15 – 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”