Luke brings us an abbreviated version of Pilate’s last ditch effort to free Jesus. We looked at Pilate’s efforts in Matthew and Mark too. As the crowd cries out “Crucify Him”, Pilate gives in and “The Crowd Rules.” This is a scene which tears my heart. It apparently was very difficult for Pilate too.
Pilate is doing everything he can think of, including stacking the deck with BAD choices, to get Jesus out of this predicament. Luke doesn’t tell us that Pilate initially suggested Barabbas but Matthew does. Luke clearly states the charges against Barabbas though and the people’s insistence on releasing him over Jesus.
Pilate tried three times to convince the crowd to do the right thing, without success. He even, once again, promised that he would “punish” Jesus before releasing Him to them if they would just relent. “What evil has He done? I have found no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him” (verse 22). In fact Pilate didn’t find Jesus guilty of anything! He stated it directly to the religious leaders; “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining Him before you, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against Him. Neither did Herod, for he sent Him back to us. Look. Nothing deserving death has been done by Him” (verses 14-15).
This is NOT how any justice system was supposed to work. But this is EXACTLY what God’s justice required for us to be freed. One innocent of all charges HAD to stand in the place of the guilty. One who knew no sin had to become sin for us. THIS is why the crowd was allowed to cry out for Jesus’ blood that day.
When the charges were written to be displayed above Jesus’ head, Pilate would write the true reason Jesus was condemned by the people. Jesus was, is, and forever will be Christ, the King of the Jews. Pilate never pronounced Him guilty of any crime even though he condemned Him to death.
Father God, I still can’t fathom the crowd’s behavior that day even though I know they were only doing Your will. I can’t imagine standing there in that throng of people and hearing them call for Jesus’ death and doing nothing.
When I do nothing to defend You to others or deny knowing You I am just as guilty as any in the crowd that day. I am guilty of this. Not on a daily basis, but none the less still guilty. Please forgive me Jesus for not standing up for You.
Thank You Jesus for taking my place. Thank You for paying the debt I could NEVER pay. Nor can I ever repay You for Your actions. Please help me live my life as a testament to Your grace. Grace bought with Your blood. Let Your blood be on my head always.