Today as we think on all the good things Jesus has done for each one of us, and if you were one of those people in the crowd more than 2000 years ago would you make the same choice as they did. How can you be certain that you would or would not? On what basics are you making your decision?
Now let us look at how scripture records that event. We know from our studies that the Jewish leaders clamored for Jesus’ death, while a Gentile woman believed that Jesus was truly innocent.
People of these times placed a great deal of importance on dreams. God was sending a warning to Pilate through his wife, but he did not heed it. Pilate’ fear of losing his very prestige job made him not listen to his wife with the warning God had given to her to give to her husband. Listen to the message she sent to her husband, “19Also, while he was seated on the judgment bench, his wife sent him a message, saying, Have nothing to do with that just and upright Man, for I have had a painful experience today in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19 AMP).
Now Pilate is caught up in a situation is regardless to how he truly feels about it and the fact that his wife is pressing upon him not to go through with it, if he wants to keep his job and prevent a riot from taking place, he must complete the task. All the religious leaders went among the crowd, persuading the people to call for Barabbas to be released. This is how the Bible describes the situation; “20But the chief priests and the elders prevailed on the people to ask for Barabbas, and put Jesus to death. 21Again the governor said to them, which of the two do you wish me to release for you? And they said, Barabbas! Matthew 27:20-21)
The people knew that Barabbas was a revolutionary and a murderer, yet they still chose him over the Son of God, one who had done so much for them. Faced with the same choice today, people are still choosing “Barabbas.” They would rather have the tangible force of human power than the salvation offered by the Son of God. Now think on this for a moment and look at your own life.
The crowd has really been wiped into frenzy and Pilate is caught in one big mess, so he says this to the crowd, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? 23They all replied, Let Him be crucified! And he said, Why? What has He done that is evil? But they shouted all the louder, Let Him be crucified!”
24So when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but rather that a riot was about to break out, he took water and washed his hands in the presence of the crowd, saying, I am not guilty of nor responsible for this righteous Man’s blood; see to it yourselves. (Matthew 27:22-23 AMP)
This hand washing was performed as a gesture of innocence to show that one had nothing to do with a murder, was a Jewish custom, not a Roman one (Deuteronomy 21:6-9). In trying to excuse himself and place the responsibility for an innocent man’s death on them, he followed the path already taken by the religious leaders as they dealt with Judas in 27:4, saying, “The responsibility is yours!” In making no decision, Pilate made the decision to let the crowds crucify Jesus. Although he washed his hands, the guilt remained. How do you feel after you physically wash your hands, of a situation that you have been heavily involved in that you know was wrong?