The Religious Jews Hatred Of Jesus!
But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”
But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)
John 18:39-40 (NLT)
The fact that Herod had found nothing worthy of death in Jesus encouraged Pilate to confront the Jewish leaders and seek to release the prisoner.He summoned the chief priests and rulers and told them that he found no guilt in Jesus, that Herod had found no guilt in Jesus, and that the next step would be to punish Jesus and release Him.
The Jews had already made it clear that they wanted Jesus to die (John 18:31), but Pilate was feebly trying to do the noble thing.
Hoping to strengthen this suggestion, Pilate offered to bargain with the Jewish leaders. It was a custom at Passover for the governor to release a prisoner and please the Jews; so, why not release Jesus? Or, he could release Barabbas; but why would the Jews want Barabbas set free? After all, he was a robber, a notorious prisoner (Matt. 27:16), an insurrectionist and a murderer (Luke 23:19).
Who would want that kind of a prisoner turned loose?
Incredible as it seems, the crowd asked for Barabbas! The chief priests and elders whose religious convictions did not motivate them toward justice and equity persuaded the people. National feelings always increased during Passover, and a vote for Barabbas was a vote against Rome. Even though Jesus had been a popular figure among the people, many of them no doubt were disappointed that He had not led a popular uprising to overthrow Rome. Perhaps they had even hoped that His “triumphal entry” a few days before would be the start of Jewish liberation.
There is no explaining how a mob chooses its heroes. No doubt many of the Jews admired Barabbas for his cunning and courage; and they rejoiced that he was fighting Rome. Had they honestly compared and contrasted the two “candidates,” the people would have had to vote for Jesus Christ. But when crafty leaders, in an atmosphere of patriotic fervour, manipulate a mob it loses itself and starts to think with its feelings instead of its brains. Their condemning vote said nothing about the Son of God, but it said a great deal about them.
Pilate thought he had a compromise that would get him out of this dilemma. He knew Jesus wasn’t guilty, and that the only reason the Jews had accused Him was because of their jealousy of Him (Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10). But Pilate didn’t want to expose the Pharisees as hypocrites. He needed them and their cooperation to rule in Jerusalem. So he thought that surely they would want Jesus released instead of a common thief. But Pilate misjudged the religious Jews’ hatred of Jesus. And his compromise forced him into a decision he knew was wrong.
Compromise is the language of the devil.