Read Matthew 27:15-26

There was a tradition. At this time of year, during the feast of the Passover, the governor of Judea could release a Jewish captive. And it was in the gift of the crowd. Pilate gave them the choice: Jesus of Nazareth or the subversive Barabbas.

There was no love lost between Pilate and the chief priests and elders of the Jews. He knew they envied Jesus. He’d found nothing wrong with the man.

And he had a second motivation. Pilate had chatted with his wife over the cornflakes that morning. She’d had a bad dream and she was convinced that Jesus was a righteous man who should be released.

And so, the man with the power of life and death had a twin motivation to let Jesus go free. And he had the convenience of a tradition that allowed the crowd to make the decision for him. It looks like all is set for the good man Jesus to be saved at the last moment and justice will be served.

But it wasn’t.

All the crowd had to do was shout for Jesus. They only needed to call out his name to save him. 

But they didn’t.

They called for Barabbas and said of Jesus, ‘Let him be crucified.’ Pilate said, ‘But he’s a good man. He’s done no wrong. What has he done deserving of death?’ He sought reason and they just shouted louder: “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate saw now that he needed to course-correct, to keep the crowd from rioting. So, he gave them what they wanted. He released Barabbas, who would do them no good and delivered Jesus to the team of crucifiers.

The crowd were unwittingly playing a part in God’s great drama. Their clamour for a criminal was part of God’s script. He was writing the Grand Story of how the only righteous man was punished so the guilty go free. We are to see our part in this story. We aren’t to chide the crowd or criticise Pilate. We are to cast ourselves as a Barabbas. We are to understand ourselves as released through the One who was bound and unpunished at the expense of Him who was unjustly condemned.

And having found this freedom, are we not to speak liberty to the captives?

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