November 24, 2021

Mark 15:1–15
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
As you read this passage, remember that Jesus had been facing a false trial all night and had already been beaten.  After that, because the religious leaders didn’t want to do the dirty work of killing Jesus themselves, they brought Jesus to Pilate, hoping to press the Romans into killing Jesus for them.  Most of us are familiar with this narrative, but we must keep in mind what was happening to Jesus.  This is a journey to the cross - to crucifixion - and a brutal and ugly death. 
The Romans built their empire on the crucifixion of thousands.  N.T. Wright in his commentaries on the Gospels points out that when Jesus was a boy, the Romans crucified thousands of rebel Jews.  In 70 A.D., when they took over Jerusalem, they crucified thousands more. They crucified so many that they got bored with the process and would experiment with different ways of crucifying people…, until they run out of wood with which to crucify people.
Jesus was about to be crucified and Pilate was at the center of it.  Pilate’s only concern was to control the chaos during the Passover.  He wasn’t concerned with what was just or right.  It’s tempting to think about the circumstances Pilate found himself in and to cut him some slack, but don’t.  Pilate had all the power.  He knew that the Council, the Sanhedrin, was acting out of envy (verse 10), he knew that Jesus was innocent, yet he chose to condemn Jesus to death.  Pilate failed to act.
There is a deeply personal moment that puts everything into perspective when Barabbas is brought into the narrative.  Barabbas deserved to die, yet Jesus died instead, and Barabbas went free.  The guilty man was given a pass and the innocent crucified.  We are shocked into a stark realization—we are all too much like Barabbas.  We deserve death and yet Jesus takes our place.
That’s really the point that Mark is stressing as the passion unfolds.  Twice now Mark has directed us to Jesus’ innocence and here in this passage, Jesus is the one dying in place of a sinner, Barabbas.  But Jesus is not just dying in the place of Barabbas, Jesus is dying for you and me, taking all of our sin to the cross with Him.
N.T. Wright put it best, “[Jesus] great Passover action makes a way through the Red Sea of sin and death, inviting Barabbas, and an increasing multitude ever since, to walk through to freedom.”
Jesus’ innocence paves the way to our freedom from sin and death, all you need to do to have that freedom and a reconciled relationship with the Lord is simply receive this incredible gift by entrusting your life to Jesus.  There is no other way.  So what are you waiting for?
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers!


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