April 14 I Thursday
1 Samuel 25-26
“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?’” —Matthew 27:17
Barabbas, imprisoned in Jerusalem, was a thief and a murderer, 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 at the time, interrogated Jesus and found no fault in Him; yet, the chief priests and the elders demanded that 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 obvious 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!” (Matthew 27:22). Pilate tried to reason with them by asking, “Why? What crime has He committed?” (Mark 15:14), but their shouts only grew louder and louder. Washing his hands of the case, Pilate 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 scourged, tortured, humiliated and rejected. In the emphatic wording of the New King James Version, Luke 19:14 goes, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
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. People will come to Christ for whatever they can receive from Him, but when He demands their allegiance, many turn their backs. This is still the issue today, and one we must all face. Who will occupy the throne of our lives?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want You to occupy the throne of my life. May You reign over me. Thank You, Lord.