Luke 23: 13-25: “Injustice on Display, Part 3”
“Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people and said to them, ‘You brought me this Man as one who was misleading the people. After examining Him before you, I do not find this Man guilty of any of your charges against Him. Neither did Herod, for he sent Him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. I will therefore punish and release Him.’ But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man and release to us Barabbas’ – a man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection started in the city and for murder.
Pilate addressed them once more desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why? What evil has he done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he handed Jesus over to their will” (Luke 23:13-25, ESV).
The evil, demonic frenzy of the religious leaders who are determined to see Jesus dead and gone knows no bounds or mercy. Their rank hatred, bordering on fanaticism, has caught on with the people who are witnessing the attempts by Pilate to get out of a tangled situation, and the unexpected cry for the release of a murderer and rebel whom some see as a hero and symbol of the resistance against Rome’s iron grip on Judea and the region.
They offer no pity or cry for mercy for the Lord Jesus, who stands there on the platform silent, bleeding, and a victim of a series of beatings by guards and others for no other reason than to inflict harm and get their sick pleasure from the pain they have caused Him. Jesus has never called for the people to revolt against Rome that results in an independent nation of Israel and the restoration of the Davidic Dynasty. He has never given any authority a cause to suspect Him of open and wanton violence or rioting. He has not lifted a finger in harm against anyone, yet He stands before the representative of the emperor, unjustly accused of crimes and behavior that never originated or had been orchestrated by Him.
Pontius Pilate has been placed this day in what would be defined as a “no-win” scenario. He does not deserve any pity or empathy for his actions, for he is trying – not to seek true justice and freedom for the Lord Jesus – but to save his neck and avoid facing Tiberius Caesar.
The emperor could have him replaced, put into exile, or executed for what looks like a case of incompetence and indecision that disturbs the peace and order of Roman rule. Pilate has examined Jesus, found all the accusations against Him to be false and without merit, and now wishes to be rid of Him and get on with other matters. He tells the crowd that he will have Jesus punished by scourging and then let Him go. It does not satisfy the unholy desire of this mob that wants to see bloodshed and death. This was urged on by both the Pharisees and the forces of unseen evil spirits whispering in the ears of the crowd to call for the Lord Jesus to be killed in the most hideous method possible, that of crucifixion. This was a punishment so horrid that Roman citizens are exempt from being put to death by it.
Barabbas is set free by the will of the frenzied mob and walks into obscurity, oblivious of the mercy from God that was given to him. The evil atmosphere is compounded by the declaration made by Pilate, who refers to Jesus as their king. The Pharisees and their cohorts respond by what is a clear and unmistakable rejection of God’s authority by stating before Pilate that their king is none other than Caesar (Matthew 27:25; John 19:14-15). The crowd cries out to Pilate that Jesus’ blood would be on them and their children for approving His execution. Their approval of His sentencing and execution affirms what Jesus already knew about their hearts (John 2:23-25).
Because of these blasphemous and idolatrous words, the priests and people have, for all practical purposes, deliberately cut themselves off from the mercy, forgiveness, and saving grace of God. They have signed an eternal death warrant for hate’s sake and demonic outrage.
Any justice, mercy, or compassion has been thrown aside and now are nothing more than unwelcome words in the minds and souls of those who have cried out for the death of Jesus. People cry out for truth, love, and compassion, yet they rejected the very One who proclaimed that He was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
In the shadows, another being watched with glee as preparations got underway to put Jesus to death and rid the world of any hope for redemption, and the promise from God that this evil being’s head would be crushed forever. The being – at one time a mighty and glorious archangel devoted to the LORD, now the sworn enemy of God and His people – is named Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17). He believes he has defeated Jesus once and for all, thanks to the mob, the religious officials, and the weak Roman governor, all of whom played into his hands. He still attempts to poison minds against Jesus today.
The darkest day in history is about to get underway, or so the forces of evil think.
They will not see that the LORD has all of this in His control and that the day that changes the world is at hand.