Fourth Sunday in Lent – Wednesday
Away with this Man, and release unto us Barabbas! – Luke 23:18.
Pilate now called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said unto them: “Ye have brought this Man unto me, as one that perverteth the people, and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this Man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him; no, nor yet Herod; for I sent you to him, and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto Him. I will therefore chastise Him, and release Him” (Luke 23:14-16).
But they would not be satisfied. Then something happened. Pilate had the custom to release to the people at the Passover one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And he had then a notable prisoner, a malefactor and a murderer, called Barabbas, who had committed a murder in an insurrection that had occurred in the city. And the people asked Pilate to observe the usual custom of releasing a prisoner (Mark 15:6-8; Matthew 27:15-16). This was a welcome opportunity for Pilate, and he said unto the multitude: “Ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the Passover” (John 18:39). “Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17). For he knew that for envy the chief priests had delivered Jesus (Mark 15:10). And as he was sitting on the judgment-seat, waiting for the answer of the people, there came a messenger delivering this message from his wife: “Have thou nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19).
But the chief priests and elders persuaded and moved the multitude that they should ask that Barabbas should be released and Jesus be condemned to die (v. 20). And now Pilate asked: “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?” (v. 21a). Then they all cried out: “Away with this Man [Jesus], and release unto us Barabbas!” (Luke 23:18).
O the people, the blind, mad, fickle people! But, do you again see the ruling hand of God amidst all this sin? For Jesus was to be delivered unto death that we, the truly guilty ones, might be released, freed from our sins and from the wages thereof. Hallelujah!
PRAYER. – At Thy Word, O merciful God, I seek and find salvation in this fact, that Thy dear Son, the Righteous One, was delivered to death, and that for His sake we, the guilty sinners, are acquitted. Let me remain steadfast in this faith, and nevermore be frightened nor despair, for Thou hast promised me, O God, that by faith in Thy beloved Son, I am righteous in Thy sight and have life everlasting. Amen.
Enslaved by sin and bound in chains,
Beneath its dreadful tyrant sway,
And doomed to everlasting pains,
We wretched, guilty captives lay.
Jesus the Sacrifice became
To rescue guilty souls from hell;
The spotless, bleeding, dying Lamb,
Beneath avenging Justice fell.
Hymn 141, 1. 4.[TLH]