- Pilate was the Roman governor of the occupied province of Judea from 26-36 AD.
- Pilate had his headquarters in Caesarea but stayed in Jerusalem during the feasts of the Jews.
- The Jewish people were occupied by the Romans and had no right to condemn anyone to death so the Great Council is so badly forced to hand Jesus over to the Romans (John 18:31).
- The Jewish leadership murdered Stephen at a later date (Acts 7:57-60), but they dare not do so to Jesus because he was popular among the people (Mark 12:12, Mark 14:2).
- The reason the Jewish leadership wanted to kill Jesus was because he “blasphemed” (Mark 14:64), but this was not a reason for the Romans to condemn anyone to death. So in order to succeed in getting the Romans to condemn Jesus to death, they instead highlight something that they know will make the Romans see red; a rebel and political rival to the Roman emperor.
- Jesus is indeed “king of the Jews”, but not politically or militarily, and is thus not a rival to Caesar (John 18:33-38).
- Just as Isaiah prophesied, Jesus was silent before his accusers (Is 53:7).
- This surprised Pilate, who seems not to have been used to such dignified behaviour. Pilate did not believe that Jesus was guilty, nor did he want to condemn him to death (John 18:38).
- Since Pilate neither wants to crucify Jesus nor anger the religious leadership, he comes up with the cunning plan to get the people to release Jesus instead. Pilate offers the people a choice between Jesus and a murderer, but is probably surprised when the people suddenly choose to release Barabbas.
- “Barabbas” means “son of the father” and when the people receive Barabbas but reject Jesus, they receive the false son and deny the true Son.
- The contrast between Barabbas and Jesus is great. Barabbas is a murderer, a person who takes life. Jesus is the giver of life, a person who gives life (Acts 3:14-15).
- Barabbas serves as a symbolic role model for all people in that he is set free when Jesus takes his place, condemned to death, even though he is guilty of his crimes.