Lesson # John 18:39
Study Material - John 18:39
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39 But [de] ye [humin] have [esti] a custom [sunetheia] , that [hina] I should release [apoluo] unto you [humin] one [heis] at [en] the passover [pascha] : will ye [boulomai] therefore [oun] that I release [apoluo] unto you [humin] the King [basileus] of the Jews [Ioudaios] ? KJV-Interlinear
39 'But you have a custom, that I should release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?' NASB
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the multitude any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they were holding at that time a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' 18 For he knew that because of envy they had delivered Him up. NASB
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 And the man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. 9 And Pilate answered them, saying, 'Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?' 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up because of envy. NASB
At this time of the year, at the time of the Feast of Passover, the population of Jerusalem has swelled to huge proportions, many times larger than its normal population. The city was crowded, and this was an exceptionally emotional time for the Jewish people. In past years many riots in varying degrees had broken out. Pilate did not want this year to be a repeat of past years. His career depended on keeping the peace.
In an effort to keep the peace, the Governor released a prisoner of the peoples choice. This practice was used in an effort to cool the tempers of the crowds. Pilate knew of Jesus' reputation. He knew of the history of the Jewish peoples and their search for a Messiah. He also knew that Jesus was often referred by this title. So what better way out of this predicament than to offer to the people, Jesus as the released prisoner? When given the choice vs. Barabbas, a petty thief and murderer, surely the people would choose their Messiah!
This would then pit the people against the chief priests and elders. It was the chief priests and elders that were pushing for the execution of Jesus. Pilate did not want to defy the leadership of Judea, nor did he want to push the crowd into a riot. So if he could maneuver this confrontation to being one that was between the people and their leadership, then he would be off the hook.
His wife is warning him to have nothing to do with all of this, and he is caught between the pressures of politics and that which is right.
Little does Pilate know that those who are reminding him of this annual practice to release a prisoner, have been coached by the chief priests. They are one step ahead of Pilate.
Pilate could have grown some moral courage and stuck to his guns and released Jesus, then just walked away from the matter. He could have taken Jesus inside and asked Him to explain all of this unusual activity against Him. Pilate could have asked Jesus to give him some insight as to what he should do, but then a Governor does not usually ask an accused person for advice.
Pilate is caught between two opinions and he is at a loss as to how to get out of this matter. He lacks moral courage, though he is the Governor of the region. He lacks control over matters which threaten to disrupt the peace. He has a tendency to do that which is expedient both politically as well as in the best interest of his own career. What is right and fair is of no consequence.
Barabbas is a prisoner who has already had a trial and is condemned to death. The cross already having been prepared for Barabbas, was probably the one which Jesus took. He is called a thief, a rebel, and a murderer. And for these crimes he has been condemned to death.
There is very little history regarding Barabbas. Only that which is in the Bible is available for us to know that he even existed. From the description of his crimes, he was probably a petty thief who was not so much one for fighting for a cause, but was probably caught in the act of a theft. In other words, he was a nobody, and this nobody was to be offered, as a choice, along with Jesus Christ (certainly 'somebody') to be released in this annual tradition.
So now we have the political maneuvering spinning around Jesus Christ. Everyone is trying to get what they want. The crowd is being manipulated. Pilate is trying to get out of executing an innocent man, even his wife is against his involvement in this matter. Herod is laughing at the whole affair. The chief priests are doing all they can to accomplish their goal - to get rid of Jesus by death. Barabbas is probably oblivious to all of these proceedings and will be shocked when he is released.
Jesus on the other hand is God. Jesus Christ controls history. While all of these folks are trying to accomplish that which they think is best for themselves, Jesus, who is bound and the accused in this matter, is running the entire show in accordance with the original Plan of God the Father which was designed and authored in eternity past.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.