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After His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane in the middle of Wednesday night of Passion Week, Jesus was taken first to Annas, and was then interrogated by Caiaphas and his yes-men to decide upon the charges they would bring against Him before the Sanhedrin at the break of day and then use to prosecute Him to death before the Romans.  But whereas the Sanhedrin rubber stamped Annas’ and Caiaphas’ charges, Pilate, the Roman governor, quickly saw that Jesus was not guilty of the criminal charges they were making against Him.  Herod too, to whom Pilate had sent Jesus, found no guilt in Him and sent Him back.  After this, Pilate met privately with Jesus in the Praetorium, which the Jewish leaders would not enter lest they be defiled and so unable to eat their Passover.  In His private conversation with Pilate Jesus made clear that His kingdom was not of this world and was established on truth, not might or coercion.  And although Pilate could not understand the nature of truth as revealed in the person of Christ, still, he clearly understood that the nature of His kingdom for which He was accused by the Jews was no threat to the worldly kingdom of the Romans.  Having completed his private investigation with Jesus, what did Pilate then conclude to the Jews when he went out again to meet them?  See Joh 18:38.  Because of the pressure Pilate felt to appease the request of the leaders against Jesus, especially on the day of their feast, what did he then do that seems calculated to have tried to enlist the multitude to assist him in releasing Jesus?  See Joh 18:39, Mat 27:15-18, Mar 15:6-10, Luk 23:17-20.

Whereas Jesus was a man of wisdom and peace, noted for doing good especially to the common people and as such a treasure of the Jewish nation even on a purely human level, how does that contrast with Barabbas that made Pilate’s offer to the people so clear-cut in the way he imagined they ought to choose?  Note that Barabbas was a “notorious criminal” (Mat 27:16), a robber (Joh 18:40) imprisoned for both insurrection and murder (Mar 15:7) and so, quite unlike Jesus, a personal threat to the public safety of the people and the peace of their nation (cf. Luk 10:30).  In at least some ways then how did Barabbas represent the sort of person so many Jews at that time, including the religious leaders, were looking for to deliver them from their Roman oppressors?  What does this remind us about the great danger of an unsanctified mind that can only fathom worldly solutions to one’s problems?  Contrast Zec 4:6.  Note too that several Caesarean manuscripts include the given name of Barabbas as also Jesus (cf. Mat 27:16,17 NRS, NIV), so that the choice Pilate put to the people was a strong contrast between two very different Jesuses, and in a sense, two very different types of saviors.

What parenthetical comment does Matthew include that happened following Pilate’s offer to the crowd to release Jesus in response to their request for him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them?  See Mat 27:19.  How did Pilate’s wife refer to Jesus, and what prompted her to send such a message to him even while he was in the middle of performing his official duties?  How contrary to the acceptable social norms would it have been for her to do as she did, that makes her intercession for Jesus all the more notable?  What does this episode remind us about the way that God very often speaks to people?  Cf. Gen 20:3, 31:24, 37:5-10, 40:5, 41:1, Num 12:6, Jdg 7:13, Job 33:14-18, Dan 2:3, 4:5, 7:1, Mat 1:20, 2:12,19,22.  When did she say that she had the dream?  See the NAS text note or other versions, and note from her choice of words that her dream may have occurred even that very morning as Jesus was first presented to Pilate.  What does this teach us about an unseen, spiritual realm in which very real things happen, perhaps even simultaneously with our material world, and that impact our physical realm?  What did she say was the effect of the dream upon her?  What might the fact that she suffered greatly or many things on account of Jesus, whom she understood to be a righteous man, indicate about the sensitivity of her spirit to righteousness?  Consider that while the Jewish leaders were intent on prosecuting Jesus to death, and His own disciples had deserted Him or were keeping their distance out of fear for their own safety so that He had no one to stand up for Him in His defense; what is the significance then that Pilate, a pagan Roman, seems to have been doing what he could to release Him, and his wife, a Gentile woman, likely broke social protocols to intervene with her husband on His behalf?  Cf. Mat 8:5-13, 21:43 and recall that a major theme of Matthew’s apologia to the Jews who were on the fence about Jesus at the time he was writing was to explain why the gospel of the Jewish Messiah was being rejected by so many of the Jews, especially as it was going forth and being received with gladness by the Gentiles.

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