"Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?” (Mt. 27:11-54)
In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus found himself wrongly accused by the chief priest and elders of crimes he did not commit. He was betrayed by Judas, one of his chosen disciples, sold out for 30 pieces of silver. All the chief priests and elders schemed and made plans to put Jesus to death.
Jesus is taken before Pilate, the Roman governor after a grand jury (the chief priest) finds probable cause for him to stand trial for crimes he never committed.
Pilate. "Are you the king of the Jews?"
Jesus, "So you say." But Jesus gives no response to any of the accusations of the chief priest and elders.
Pilate, "Don't you hear all these things they're accusing you of."
Jesus refused to answer a single word. He knew the deck was stacked against him.
Being that it was the Passover Festival, the Roman governor had the option of letting the crowd choose one prisoner to go free. In the Good News Translation of the Bible, Catholic Edition, the writer said Pilate asked, "Which one do you want me to set free?" Jesus Barabbas, a notorious criminal or Jesus called the Messiah?" The chief priest and the elders had persuaded the crowd to ask Pilate to set Barabbas free and have Jesus put to death. Pilate, able to see what was happening, could see Jesus was innocent. Even as Pilate sat in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message, "Have nothing to do with this innocent man." He tried to give Jesus a fighting chance asking them, "What do you want me to do with Jesus the Messiah." Their words rang out, "CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM." At that, Pilate saw it was no use to keep trying. He washed his hands and told them, "I am not responsible for this man's death; it's on you." The people responded, "His death is on our hands and our children." What a terrible responsibility to accept? Their children must carry the burden left on them.
Today DNA testing can clear wrongful evidence against someone accused of a crime. Often though, it is after the fact and too late. Prosecutors want to hurry up and get the case closed. They want the death penalty to follow through. Prosecutors want to get that switch pulled while those who are seeking that last straw of hope for an innocent person to keep them from dying. In the end, when the eleventh hour passes, the switch is pulled. And then, finally, after the death penalty has been carried out, for those who feel justified in getting what they wanted, they are satisfied.
The truth comes out in the end. A grave wrong has been committed, but was it by the person who suffered the death penalty, or was it by those who put that person to death. In the end, we find out, "THIS JESUS WAS AN INNOCENT MAN."
Author: Ricardo Featherstone