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In spite of his desire and numerous attempts to release Jesus, the insistent cries of the crowd egged on by their leaders to crucify Him eventually prevailed as Pilate “saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting” (Mat 27:24).  For as much as his understanding that Jesus was innocent and his own wife’s warning from a dream were pricking his conscience to do what was right, he also feared the potential political ramifications from his Roman superiors for not appeasing the Jews on their feast day, especially when they could complain that Jesus made Himself out to be a king in opposition to Caesar, and he had the political savvy to know how they could spin that against him.  As Pilate surrendered Jesus to the will of the unbelieving Jews, what did he do to communicate to them 1) that Jesus was not worthy of the death they demanded and 2) his desire to not be responsible for His death?  See Mat 27:24.  What did the Jews reply that accepted the responsibility for Jesus’ death?  See Mat 27:25.  Although Pilate wished to escape culpability for Jesus’ death, and the people gathered there as representatives of the Jewish nation accepted the responsibility, as the ruler who had been granted authority from above to preside over Jesus’ case, was it possible for Pilate to simply wash his hands of the matter and have no responsibility?  See Joh 19:11 and consider that while the Jewish leaders had the greater sin for delivering Jesus up to Pilate and inciting the people, Pilate was not without sin for surrendering a man he knew to be innocent to a mob: to receive authority is to accept not only the power but the responsibility for the exercise of that authority.

Consider how the crowd of people gathered that day, who as individuals in more sober moments would assuredly have been more rational in their thinking, was incited by their leaders to irrationally demand Jesus’ crucifixion, even to the point of invoking a curse upon themselves and their children. What does this teach us about both the danger of “groupthink” to overturn sound judgment, and the power of persuasive leaders to delude their followers by it in order to further their own agenda?  In light of the proverbial suffering experienced by the Jewish people since that time, what should we understand about the great danger of a people allowing themselves to be caught up and carried away by such a mob mentality?  See Exo 23:2.  In what way were the Salem Witch Trials, Nazi Germany, a former President’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, and even Vaccine Mandates, examples of mob thinking and its dangers?  Should we suppose that just any crowd is subject to such manipulation and mob behavior?  Or rather, should we understand such as a natural consequence and the end result of a common profaneness as God gives a whole group of people over to believe a lie, similar to the way He gives individuals over to the intentions of their heart to believe what is false?  Cf. 2Th 2:10-12.  What warning should this give Americans as they increasingly turn their hearts away from God?  As Christ was the recipient of that mob’s fury, both as God’s way of exalting Him while at the same time condemning them, what warning should true Christians, even here in America, take in regard to their own future persecution?  Cf. Joh 15:20.  In that day, will we follow the crowd to save our life only to lose it, or follow Christ in losing our life in order to save it?  Cf. Mat 16:24-25.

What do all three synoptic gospels record that Pilate did for the crowd after surrendering Jesus to their will?  See Mat 27:26, Mar 15:15, Luk 23:25.  As Barabbas was a robber, insurrectionist, and murderer, in what way did he better reflect the qualities that the people were hoping for in someone to deliver them from the Romans in the way they expected?  In what way then was Pilate’s releasing Barabbas to them, while at the same time surrendering Jesus to their will, an important piece of evidence in heaven’s court that clearly demonstrated the type of salvation they yearned for and the only one they would accept?  Cf. Act 3:13-15.  What do these things remind us about the way that God is able to judge the secrets of men through the truth of Christ Jesus?  Cf. Rom 2:16.

In what sense can we understand Barabbas as the first recipient of the free gift of God’s grace bestowed upon mankind for salvation through Christ Jesus?  Cf. Luk 4:18.  Especially as a criminal awaiting the sentence of death and then set free as Jesus—who was known for doing good throughout His nation (Act 10:38)—was given over to death instead of him, in what way was the physical gift of salvation Barabbas experienced a type of the even greater gift of spiritual salvation sinners may experience through Christ’s death?  Although Barabbas was “saved” in a physical sense by Christ’s death, does it necessarily follow that he was saved “forever” in the sense that he could continue in his crimes without fear of ever again being brought to judgment by the Romans?  Similarly, just because one is saved spiritually by Christ’s death, does it necessarily follow that he is therefore saved forever and can continue in his sins without fear of ever again being brought to judgment by God?  See Heb 10:26-31, 2Pe 2:20-22; cf. Mat 18:27-35.  What does this remind us about the importance not only of Christ’s death, but His resurrection from the dead, through which we also are raised up from being dead in our sins by receiving power to walk in newness of life?  Cf. Rom 6:1-14, 8:11.

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