11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
Okay! This is a story a lot of us are familiar with, but one of the best things about the Bible is that God gives us fresh revelations of what scripture means all the time! So what are the basics here?
Jesus was rejected
In the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, He experienced a lot of rejection. One of the first was the betrayal of Judas. After Jesus was arrested, officials took Him to the Jewish High Priest and a group of people called the Sanhedrin. They were basically the Jewish high court. They accused Jesus of treason, claiming to be the Son of God, and some other things like disrupting the Sabbath (by healing people). That’s another layer of rejection. Because the Sanhedrin couldn’t legally sentence Jesus to death, they sent Him to Pilate, which is where our scripture begins. It gets interesting here. We are used to the Jewish religious leaders hating on Jesus because that is a pretty normal occurrence. But Pilate, who knew he was innocent, gave in to political pressure and convicted Jesus to death, despite the warning from his wife and his gut feeling that Jesus was not guilty. Pilate was in a position to stop the efforts of the religious leaders, but refused to do so out of fear of causing chaos. There was an opportunity for the crowd gathered outside to pardon Jesus, but even they chose Barabbas, a known criminal, over Jesus Christ. In the scripture, they couldn’t even name a crime committed by Jesus. In theory, anyone in the crowd could have made an argument for the innocence of Jesus, but they stayed silent. Jesus experienced a lot of negative stuff over those few days. It’s crazy to think that His resilience and reliance on the Father led us to be able to have personal and intimate relationship with God.
Jesus never rejects us
Have you ever heard anyone say that Jesus always meets us where we are? It’s one of my favorite things about Him! I think one reason that Jesus is able to do that so well could be that He is familiar with all of the temptation and struggle that we could possibly face. In this scripture, Jesus is rejected in the harshest way. They chose Barabbas over Him without cause, and taunted him while He looked on. It wasn’t discreet or subtle. I can’t personally say that I’ve experienced rejection to this degree, but I have definitely felt that sting before. It isn’t fun, is it? It’s easy, especially in college, when we’re away from home for the first time, to feel that rejection and loneliness. It can be even easier to feel far away from Jesus when those feelings creep in. Here’s the good news! First, Jesus isn’t waiting for you to get over those feelings before He hangs out with you. He’s not afraid of them. He’s not intimidated by them. They are familiar to Him because of what we know from this scripture. Second, He meets you where you are! He never rejects you! That is the Gospel friends! Humanity put Jesus on trial, and condemned Him, but He never does that to us. It literally doesn’t make sense. Thanks God! That can be a truth that’s hard to swallow sometimes, because it’s so counterintuitive. I encourage you to challenge yourself by declaring that truth over yourself during the rest of this break.
Jesus, thank You for always meeting me where I am. Thank You for not requiring perfection or striving to reach You. Remind me that You’re familiar with pain, and that I’m not alone when I’m feeling down. Draw near to me. Amen.