15Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted.16This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas.17As 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.)
19Just 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.”
20Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.21So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
22Pilate 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!”
24Pilate 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!”
25And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
26So 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.
This part of the trial makes it painfully clear what is going on. Barabbas is a guilty man, no one questions his guilt. As a matter of fact he is “notorious”. Jesus is obviously innocent. Pilate knows it. When Pilate asks the people why they are calling for Jesus to be crucified, they cannot answer him because Jesus is perfectly innocent. God, goodness and holiness are all rejected in favor of sin and rebellion.
Of course, we are all Barabbas. We know it. We are all notorious sinners who deserve death in the face of God’s perfect holiness. Yet, just like the lamb that was slaughtered to save the first born at the original Passover in Egypt, the innocent Jesus is crucified in our place. He quietly goes to our cross in our place.
And we, just like Barabbas, are set free. FREE! FREE! Barabbas didn’t have the sentence hanging over his head. He wasn’t just spared his life but left in prison. No he was set free and so are we. We are FREE. *obbs*