Verse of the Day Devotion. Luke 23:18

But they cried out altogether, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” – Luke 23:18 

This verse addresses Pilate making a decision as to what to do about Jesus. And He presented this to the Chief Priests and rulers. “Then the whole body of them arose and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” And Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee, even as far as this place.” Luke 23:1-5. And then “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. I will therefore punish Him and release Him. Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.” Luke 23:14-17. Herod also saw Him, but he simply mocked Him. The chief priest and the Jewish leaders brought Jesus before them, and both found no fault in Jesus on the charges brought to them, especially anything involving the penalty of death.

And because Herod nor Pilot did not find Him guilty of any crime deserving death, Pilot did not want to kill Him, in fact, he wanted to release Him, according to the policy of releasing to them one prisoner at the feast of Passover. “I will therefore punish Him and release Him.” Luke 23:16. However, Pilot was shocked by their response. “But they cried out altogether, saying, away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” Luke 23:18. Barabbas means ‘Son of Abbas’. Luke explained Barabbas was the very kind of person the chief priests, rulers, and people claimed Jesus to be, a revolutionary. There is a tragic irony here. Jesus came offering peace but was rejected in favor of a revolutionary who promoted murder. This verse foreshadows the tragedy of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 70, where ultimately the Temple was completely destroyed, with no stone left upon another. Luke portrays the choice available for Jesus’ opponents as a clear decision between good and evil; a holy, righteous man and a murderer; Jesus and Barabbas. And unfortunately, they chose evil. Three times Pilot asked them why, but all three times they called for His crucifixion. The one who deserved death was released because of the desire of the crowd, but the one whom Pilot and Herod declared innocent the crowd cried out to kill.

At the first of the week, there was a crowd in Jerusalem celebrating Jesus as the Messiah. However, by the next Friday, there was a crowd crying, ‘Crucify Him!’ This change of the city’s heart naturally causes questions. One thing to remember is that not everyone at the Triumphal Entry was celebrating the Lord. Most of the city was puzzled. “And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, who is this?” Matthew 21:10. And the Jewish leaders were not pleased, “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, they became indignant.” Matthew 21:15. If some people did join both crowds, they may have become disillusioned with Jesus when they discovered He was not going to set up the kingdom immediately, or perhaps they disliked Jesus’ insistence they repent. It’s quite possible the crowd gathered before Pilate at that early hour had been assembled and suborned by the Jewish leaders.

In the end, the thing we need to remember is that the crowd yelling ‘crucify Him’ was not what put Him on the cross. The fact that we sinned did that. We see this in Genesis where we read, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15. It was on account of the original sin and how it was passed down from generation to generation, as well as God’s grace toward us. However, it is important to remember we must not put what we desire or deem true ahead of what God has told us was absolutely true. Throughout Jewish history, the coming of the Messiah was prophesied, but much of Judaism ignored it because it did not happen as they believed it would.  We must be careful we do not fall into the same trap, by believing it is not as I thought therefore it cannot be true. Truth is true no matter what we think.  Jesus only spoke and taught the truth.  We must not decide what is truth based on what we think, but on what God says.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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