by Dcn. Greg Statezni
“Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.” Matthew 27:20
The crowd had to decide who to release: Barnabas or Jesus. The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude. They did not persuade by loudly forcing the crowd or making a public oration to follow their decision, but by sending their servants and leaders among the crowd, telling them that Jesus had been examined before the Sanhedrim that morning and they found Jesus to be a blasphemer, that the whole court had unanimously condemned him to death. Should this man be set free? What might this suggest to the community since it had been given out that Jesus was possibly be the Messiah? Would the Romans be jealous of this Jesus the Messiah, that would He take away both their place of authority the nation, and deprive them of their remaining privileges?
Pilate put this strange duo before the Jews as some kind of a ruse – an attempt to rid himself of this bad case. He was afraid of Jesus with His strange majesty. He was sure that Jesus was innocent and that he would not need to proclaim Him guilty. So he put Him in a duo with Barabbas – a despicable murderer and rebel. Pilate thought they would of course choose for Jesus and rid him of this unsavory case.
The people appeared to have wavered in their choice, while for a moment Pilate had hopes that his stratagem was working. But the Sanhedrin was at hand with their insidious suggestions and easily swayed the fickle crowd by directing popular favor to Barabbas. The expression in the Greek implies that they used their persuasive powers in order that the people should demand the release of Barabbas and compass the death of Jesus.
We know that Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified, for he was a man without any moral resolve and conviction. He knew Jesus was innocent. Rather than acquit Jesus, he instead allowed the Jews to kill Jesus and then tried to act as if he was not guilty of any wrong in this decision by saying that he had washed his hands of the matter. Pilate followed political expediency rather than justice in having Jesus put to death.
How do you respond when you see someone being wronged? Do you follow the politically expedient way?
Would you say, “Crucify, crucify, crucify him!”?
Dcn. Greg ministers with Trinity Anglican Church