TO CROWD’S CRY OF CRUCIFY
(see also Matthew 27:20-26;
Mark 15:11-15, John 18:40-19:16)
Luke 23:18-19 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)
Susan: Pilate had hoped against hope that the Jews would do the right thing and have him release Jesus in honor of the Passover.
Susie: Instead, they called for the release of Barabbas, a notorious leader of an insurrection who plundered and murdered—in essence, a terrorist.
Susan: The religious leaders were so eager to dispose of Jesus that they were willing to release Barabbas whose name in Israel means “son of shame and confusion” back into their streets!
Luke 23:20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
Susie: Pilate again tried to persuade them to agree to have Jesus flogged and released. Jesus’s judge has now become His advocate. So far, Pilate is still trying to win the battle with his conscience and refuse to kill Jesus.
Luke 23:21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
Susan: The priests, scribes, and the entire crowd (spurred on by the priests) insisted not only on the death penalty for Jesus, but the cruelest death devised by the Romans—crucifixion.
Susie: They wanted Jesus humiliated in front of the people, painfully nailed naked to the cross and left to agonize and suffocate until death.
Susan: Death on the cross would be especially degrading in light of this passage which all Jews would recognize:
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
Luke 23:22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him and let him go.
Susan: Pilate persisted in questioning the validity of the death penalty for Jesus although he was still willing to have this innocent man viciously flogged in an effort to appease the Jews.
Susie: In fact, John’s gospel brings out the fact that Pilate tried just that. He turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to be beaten with a cat-o-nine-tails. They beat our Lord until his back looked like raw hamburger and plunged a crown of long thorns on His head. Then Pilate brought out this barely recognizable man and tried once more to release Him:
John 19:5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
Luke 23:23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
Susan: It was not just the uneducated, common person crying out for Jesus to be crucified. The priests—who had poured over the scriptures all their adult lives and should have been the first to recognize their Messiah—were the instigators of the demand for the death penalty. These men should have been able to make a list of the prophecies concerning the Messiah and match them up to the events of Jesus’s life to that point. They should have been worshipping Him as the Son of God instead of demanding His execution as a blasphemer!
Luke 23:24-25 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Susie: At this point, because of his fear of the Jewish leaders and what they might report to Rome, Pilate caved! He pronounced sentence that Jesus should be crucified. Matthew tells us that Pilate washed his hands of the entire mess (literally!).
Matthew 27:24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Susan: The Jewish people who were demanding Jesus’s death then pronounced a curse upon themselves and their offspring (a generational curse):
Matthew 27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Ponder this and Apply it: We vilify Pilate for refusing to stand up for what was right, but we must admit he was “between a rock and a hard place.” He knew what was right, but he also knew doing the right thing could ruin him politically and ultimately personally. The Jewish leaders blinded themselves to the truth and demanded the death of their own Promised One. How often to do we blind ourselves to truth that is staring us right in the face or give into temptation because of the cares of this world? Let us take an honest look at our own actions and pray the Holy Spirit arrests us and enables us to let righteousness prevail in our daily decisions!