October 24 I Wednesday
1 Timothy 4
“So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’” —Matthew 27:17
Barabbas, imprisoned in Jerusalem, was a known thief and murderer and was notoriously known throughout the land as an insurgent. He was extremely dangerous and had incited rebellion, leaving chaos and destruction in his wake. People were likely afraid and locked their doors when Barabbas was around, but shockingly, these were the same people who shouted for his release.
At the annual Jewish Passover, it was customary for the Roman governor to release one prisoner as an act of goodwill to appease the people. Pontius Pilate, the governor of the time, interrogated Jesus and found no fault in Him, yet the chief priests and elders demanded He be put to death. Pilate did not want to accommodate them, and he had what seemed to be the simple solution. Rather than having Barabbas back on the streets, Pilate gave the people the choice between Barabbas and Jesus figuring then he would not have to sentence an innocent man to death.
No one locked their doors when Jesus was around. He healed their sick, touched people no one else would touch, associated with sinners and befriended the outcasts. The self-righteous resented Him, but the common people loved Him, and it was to the common people the vote was put. To Pilate’s amazement, they called for Barabbas to be released, and as for Jesus: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate tried to reason with them, but their shouts only grew louder. Washing his hands of the case, he handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Why was there such a disturbing response to Jesus? Just before He entered Jerusalem, Jesus told a parable involving a new king, and the reaction of the people in the parable matched the situation currently unfolding: “We don’t want this man to be our king” (Luke 19:14). Instead of glory, power and victory, the crowd saw Jesus being scoured, tortured, humiliated and rejected
by the hierarchy of His own people. Many had also been bribed by the chief priests and elders to shout for Barabbas and so they did.
In the emphatic wording of the Authorized King James Version, Luke 19:14 says, “We will not have
this man to reign over us.” It is Jesus’s demands of kingship that divide. People will come to Christ for whatever they can receive from Him, but when He demands their allegiance many turn their backs. At the end of His ministry, Jesus had few disciples but many enemies because the rock-bottom issue the people had to face was His royal authority. This is still the issue today, and one we must all face. Who will occupy the throne in our lives?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are all I want. I give my heart to You and ask that You occupy the throne in my life. Thank You, Lord.