We are continuing on with Jesus as He moves ever forward towards the cross. We join Him in the presence of Pilate at the annual feast ceremony. This is where and when Pilate customarily releases one prisoner back to the people.
As this is an important event, Matthew also included it in his narrative. We looked at this event in the blog titled “The Crowd Rules.” Once again we put ourselves in the story. I hope you pop back over and feel the events of the day. There are a couple of questions I want to ask about the events as we revisit this scene in Mark’s gospel.
According to bible scholars, this happened between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning on the eve of the holy day. This was the day of preparation. The day the Passover lamb would be killed. The day to prepare the meal.
Jesus and His disciples did this the day before. Because of the scattering of the Jews after the Babylonian exile there was a second day of Passover instituted. In Israel the Sanhedrin was the one to mark the changing of the calendar from one month to the next. On the 30th day after the start of each month, if two witnesses saw the new crescent moon, the Sanhedrin would declare that the month began on that day, resulting in a 29 day month. If two witnesses didn’t see the new crescent moon the month would continue for one additional day making it have 30 days instead. For Jews living outside of Israel, they were not able to consistently hear the changing of the month. So to ensure that they were celebrating the Passover on the correct day, they instituted a second day of celebration. This way they would ensure that one of the two days of celebrating was in fact the actual day of Passover. This became a custom and continues even today. In Israel, the celebration is celebrated on one day but travelers from other areas would still celebrate for two days. Maybe this is why Jesus and His disciples had their Passover meal the day before.
Ok. Back to Pilate’s court. I want to know where all the people came from. As I stated earlier, it was early in the morning. Was this the scheduled time for the annual prisoner release? It seems strange to me; maybe because of our workday schedule. Most government offices don’t open until 9:00 of 10:00 in the morning. I guess I am trying to fit Jesus’ time people into my modern time routines.
Is it possible that only the religious leaders and those they had enlisted to help convict Jesus were at this morning meeting? If it was just a few calling out for Jesus’ death, why would Pilate give in to their demands? There must have been a large enough crowd to actually pose a problem for Pilate. He didn’t want to sentence Jesus to death. He found no reason to condemn Him. But because of the insistence of the people, Pilate gave in.
Father God, I know this was all part of Your plan but to have actually heard the whole crowd crying out for Jesus’ death must have been very hard to take. It would have been even more painful if the crowd included those He had ministered to before. The mob mentality ruled that day. I’m sorry again for what You went through Jesus. We haven’t even hit the physically tortures parts yet. I’m certain the bondage, hitting, spitting and mocking up until this point weren’t comfortable but what came next was excruciating. Thank You Father God for providing strength for Jesus hours before. Your gift of strength would sustain Him until the very end.
Father God, have I become callused to these stories of Jesus’ suffering? I have read and heard them so many times in my life, yet today I turned instead to more esoteric issues. I never want to be dulled to the price Jesus paid for my salvation. But I also want to offer new insight or points with each visit to these stories. I know You have SO much hidden in Your word. Please help me dig out the nuggets You have hidden for me. Thank You that You never tell me to stop asking questions. I may not get the answers this side of Heaven, but I know that You hear my questions and answer them Your way and in Your time. Thank You for sharing Your time with me.