Herod & Barabbas

Herrod & Barabbas John 18:38-40 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

In this lesson we will develop the entire sequence of events in chronological order that occur during the interrogation of Jesus by Pilate and Herod. In this passage we will notice some interesting things. One is that after having been enemies Pilate and Herod became friends when they found a common enemy in Jesus Christ. Another is the motive that the Jews used to accuse Jesus and bring about His death. Finally, we will see just what kind of character Barabbas was. In order to do this we will spend most of the time in the other three Gospels which provide many details that are not included in the Gospel of John.

When Pilate discovered that Jesus was from Galilee, which was under the jurisdiction of Herod (Luke 3:1), Pilate sent Jesus to Herod hoping to be done with the matter (Luke 23:5-7). Herod was happy to receive Jesus because he wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle.  But when questioned, Jesus had nothing to say to Herod (Luke 23:8-9).  When Herod returned Jesus to Pilate the two rulers were united in their dislike for Jesus and became friends (Luke 23:12). They had previously been enemies because Herod was offended by Pilate having killed Galileans for use in blood sacrifices (Luke 13:1).  This was an affront to Herod’s authority.  However, when Pilate delivered Jesus to Herod it was perceived by Herod as a gesture of respect for his authority and so Herod was willing to proceed on friendlier terms.

Pilate then announced to the Jews that neither he, nor Herod, could find fault with Jesus.  So He was to have Jesus whipped and then released.  The Jews would have none of it (Luke 23:13-21).  Pilate then appealed to them on the basis of a custom of releasing a prisoner on the Passover (Matt. 27:15, Mark 15:6, John 18:39).  Pilate offered them a well-known thief and murderer named Barabbas thinking that surely the Jews would choose to release Jesus over such a foul criminal such as Barabbas.  However, this attempt to release Jesus failed, as well, for the Jews simply called for the release of Barabbas instead (Matt. 27:16, Mark 15:7-8, 23:18-19, John 18:40).

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and that the Jewish priesthood wanted to be rid of Jesus out of envy.  Pilate’s wife sent him word warning him to have “nothing to do with that just man” for she had a troubling dream about Jesus (Mark 15:10, Matt. 27:19).  However, like most politicians, he chose pragmatism over justice in order to appease the Jews and gain favor with Herod to solidify a political alliance.

Barabbas was guilty of many contemptible crimes, but in spite of that he gained his freedom.  No matter how despicable and undeserving we may find Barabbas we would do well to realize that each of us is very much like Barabbas.  We are all sinners guilty of many things in the eyes of God.  When we accept Jesus Christ and get saved we too gain our freedom from death. Jesus Christ took the penalty that was meant for all of us, so that we could be free to have eternal life.  Jesus was not only a substitute on the cross for Barabbas, but He was a substitute for each one of us as well.  Let us never forget that.