In today’s (chronological) reading… Matthew 27:1-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28–19:16… we see Jesus being sentenced by the Procurator/Governor, Pontius Pilate.
We are also introduced to a bad man named Barabbas.
Each year in ancient Israel, at Passover, the ruling governor would release one prisoner… as a concession to the people (who were not pleased that they were ruled by Rome). Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, and was brought before Pilate… the Roman governor who would have the authority to release the prisoner of his choosing.
After questioning Jesus on 2 occasions that Thursday night late/Friday morning early, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent of any crimes… much less the crimes He was accused of by the Jewish religious authorities. Neither did Pilate view Jesus as a political threat. So Pilate, possibly from self-preservation and the desire to avoid conflict, had decided to release Jesus.
But, there were other forces at work. The Jewish leaders resented Jesus… and envied Jesus… and feared He would continue to grow more popular and would siphon the reverence they were sure was due them. Many in the crowd had closer connections with the rabble-rousing rebel named Barabbas than they did Jesus. And the chief priests were urging the people/mob to back Pilate into a corner… and to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.
A murderer named Barabbas would go free… and Jesus, an innocent Man, would take His place.
Jesus took Barabbas’ place… and yours… and mine… when He allowed Himself to be placed on the cross as a sacrifice for sin.