Day 5 - Barabbas // Holy Week

Day 5 // Barabbas

“At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you — Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew it was because of envy that they had handed him over.
While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” “Barabbas!” they answered.
Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all answered, “Crucify him!” 
Then he said, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they kept shouting all the more, “Crucify him!” 
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.See to it yourselves!” 
All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them and, after having Jesus flogged, handed him over to be crucified”
— Matthew 26:36-46

Should I follow the crowd?

As I reflect on the story of Barabbas, I think about what it would have been like to be part of the crowd. Just imagine yourself standing there and hearing the crowd yell and plead for the release of a guilty criminal named Barabbas. When reading this story, I have often wondered how I would react. Would I have gone against the crowd? Would I have said nothing at all? Would I have joined the crowd in their chanting? We all know how hard it is to be set apart.

One of my favorite activities is to attend WVU football games. Since I grew up in Morgantown and attended WVU, I have attended many WVU games in my life. One of my favorite parts of attending the games is the excitement of the crowd. I love when our team gets a first down and we get to do the chant and motion, “One, two, three, first down.” Or when we score a touchdown and the other fans sitting nearby give you a high five. It is so much fun to be accepted by the crowd, and it's easy to have fun when you are around other people who agree with you and are cheering on the same team.

In the story of Barabbas, it was definitely popular to follow the crowd. Even if you didn’t agree with them, it would have been scary to speak out against their wishes. I think that Pilate’s wife and Pilate both believed that Jesus was innocent. The scripture says that Pilate questioned the crowd, asking,  “Why? What crime has He committed?” Pilate knew that Jesus had done nothing to deserve suffering and death, but he was fearful of losing his title as governor.  According to scripture, “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” (Matthew 27:24) Ultimately, Pilate had the choice of what would happen to Jesus but followed the crowd and had Jesus crucified.

Granted, it is definitely easy to pass judgment on other people. We can ask ourselves, “Why would Pilate do something that he didn’t really think was right?” But what would we have done in that situation? Personally, I don’t like any kind of confrontation, so I probably wouldn’t have yelled with the crowd… but I likely wouldn’t have been brave enough to yell against them, either. 

There are many times in our lives that we are put to the test, especially nowadays, as culture or “the crowd” seems to promote ideas that are clearly against God’s Word. Now more than ever, it is important for us not to feel like we must follow the crowd; but instead, we should look to God’s Word for answers, and pray for His wisdom to make better decisions that impact the world for His glory!  
Author: Katie Lemley, Ministry Team Administrative Coordinator