Matthew 27:17, 21b-22 (NIV) 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
21b“Barabbas,” they answered. 22“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”
It hadn’t been that many days before this that they were shouting for Jesus to save them, save them from Rome. That week was spent sharing the words of life with all who would hear in the Temple. They had come to a crossroad. Would they ask for the release of Barabbas, the zealot that killed Roman soldiers, or Jesus, the healer and teacher? Will they choose the physical answer to their needs, or the spiritual answer? Will they choose the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? “They all answered, “Crucify him!”
We are often faced with the same choice. We have to decide whether we will proceed with our lives on the basis of what man can accomplish, or take a whole new path led by the Spirit of God. Will we choose the physical answer to our needs or the spiritual answer, the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? One is death, and the other is life.
Pilate did not have just cause to execute Jesus and told the crowd as much. They didn’t care. They said they would personally bear the guilt. “His blood be on us and our children.” We look back at the history of suffering the Jews have endured and wonder at the connection with their readiness to accept the blame for His murder. We trust that in God’s time that expression will mean their salvation.
Pilate had Jesus whipped. It was a process they called ‘half death’. Those who wielded the whips were medically trained to recognize shock. They wove into the end of the whips pieces of bone or lead so that the muscles of the back would be shredded. It was so brutal that sometimes the organs were exposed. Those wielding the whips were not held responsible should the victim die. Isaiah said, “By His stripes we are healed.”
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for enduring that for us!
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