Matthew 27:11-26 Barabbas and Me

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Barabbas and Me

Jesus, Barabbas is a type of me.  I am Barabbas.  I am a rebel.  I live in rebellion.  As I went away on vacation to Missouri for a few days to have a reunion with Amelia’s friends, I prayed and talked about you, but I didn’t talk to you.  I kind of left you off to the side for most of my time there.  I thanked you for the sunset, but given a change of location, I started to walk in my old patterns of living.  I so quickly lack discipline, and without discipline, I lack relationship.  I have been set free, though, because you have sacrificed your freedom.  You were silent before Pilate, so that Barabbas would go free.  You endured the shame of derision and scorn so that we can all go free.  You walked resolutely toward crucifixion so that the horrible fate of insurrectionists was lifted from Barabbas. 

I am Pilate, too.  I tend to pronounce myself innocent.  I declare myself, “Not Guilty”. I sit passively looking at your death like a spectator in the stands.  However, it is my death you die.  I am guilty for either ignoring that your death has anything to do with me, or appreciating the freedom that your death purchased.

Jesus, help us to see daily the guilt that should be ours and feel the gratitude of your mercy.  You have lavished such grace on my family by letting my children live such full lives in our care.  You have allowed me to live a quality of life for which I should be grateful.  Eliminate the anxiety and sadness that you have already redeemed me from.  Bring forth the joy and the peace that you have already purchased.

I wonder what Barabbas did with the life that you gave him?

Questions

  1. Who is released instead of Jesus?
  2. Why does Pilate try this tactic?
  3. Who tells Pilate the truth?
  4. How is your position like that of Barabbas?
  5. How are people like Pilate today?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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