Today’s reading is familiar to all of us. Jesus is delivered to Pilate. The crowd choose Barabbas. Pilate delivers Jesus to be crucified. Jesus is crucified, died and is buried. We know this story. The disciples also knew this story as Jesus himself predicted his death many times. In Matthew along, we read:
Matthew 16:21–28 says that Jesus “from that time”, i.e. on a number of occasions, Jesus “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed …”.
Each time Jesus predicts his death, the disciples do not believe that this event will happen. Jesus tries to continue to teach them new things. Matthew 17:22–23 as follows:
He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
Then, the third prediction in the Matthew 20:17–19 discusses his crucifixion:
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
The fourth prediction in Matthew is found in Matthew 26:1-2 immediately precedes the plot made against him by the religious Jewish leaders:
“As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Yes, the disciples did not want to believe. As their leader, friend, hero, they wanted to listen but not really hear what Jesus was predicting. How could this happen? When? What could be done to stop this horrific event? Yet, as Jesus is foretelling his fate, it appears to the reader that he is calm, almost matter-of-fact.
We also read further into Pilate’s thoughts. Pilate sat in judgment of Jesus. I always think about the attitude of each man in this situation. Pilate tried to push Jesus to talk. He prodded him to save himself. Yet, Jesus would not say much. He just repeated what Pilate said “if you say so”. Pilate must have been a bit irritated with Jesus for not engaging in the conversation. He saw that Jesus was at peace with what was going to happen. Pilate could have released Jesus, but he did not. He turned the decision over to the crowd. He gave the crowd the option to release him. As Pilate lead Jesus out to the crowd, he may not have anticipated the reaction. The word “crowdsource” comes to mind.
obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet.Now of course there was no Internet back then, but this crowd seemed to feed off each other. They could hardly hear Pilate.21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
As we know, Jesus is mocked, spat upon, crowned with a crown of thorns, bruised, and crucified. There is so much to today’s reading! What a turn of events. Jesus is preaching and teaching, healing and feeding thousands. Then, things turn, for him and for his disciples, for Pilate and also for the crowds who may have even been following Jesus! Crucified, died and is buried. How crazy. How awful it must have been even if he predicted his own death, and all of these events happened in such a short time frame.
Two thoughts as you move from today’s reading into your daily life: 1) Count every day with friends and family as a blessing as you never know when things might take a turn for you or your family; 2) Be thankful Jesus died on the cross for us, to save us.