From the pen of Rev. Michael De Vries comes these thoughts on the choice of the mob outside the Roman Praetorium, when Pontius Pilate asked the people whom they wished to be released, Jesus or Barabbas (cf. Matt.27:17-23), and the people chose Barabbas, crying for Jesus to be crucified.
These are Rev. DeVries’ closing thoughts on this answer of the crowd, which he calls a “self-condemning answer.” This is part of his meditation “Jesus or Barabbas” published in the March 15, 2016 issue of the Standard Bearer.
This answer was self-condemning because the multitude clearly made known its will. There is no excuse. The fact that they were prompted by the chief priests doesn’t take away their responsibility. Who could not see the stark contrast between Jesus and Barabbas? Surely they knew that this choice was between One who was perfectly righteous and a notorious criminal. When faced with the question,
“What think ye of the Christ?”, the multitude quite consciously prefers a murderer to Jesus! The multitude should have rejected the shameful nomination made by Pilate. But they have unconsciously recognized themselves in this murderer, and so they choose Barabbas and reveal their own hatred for God and His Christ. The multitude was forced to reveal its desire for an earthly Messiah who would satisfy their carnal lusts.
This answer was self-condemning because this was the answer of the whole world. Truly in this answer we see the condemnation of the world. Christ said in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Understand, when the multitude asked for Barabbas, the whole world asked for Barabbas! When the multitude cried out, “Let him be crucified, the whole world cried out, “Let him be crucified!” It was God’s sovereign purpose to condemn the world through its own testimony! In giving this answer the world was exposed in its corruption, its hypocrisy, its worthiness of damnation.
But finally, this answer was self-condemning because this was our answer. This answer of the multitude is our condemnation. We by nature, apart from grace, belong with that profane, scorning, God-reviling multitude that heaped reproach upon Christ. We must confess that we signed, as it were, our own condemnation before the terrible tribunal of God!
Yet we need not despair because of our self-condemning answer! Ultimately our sovereign God had determined this answer. He had divinely appointed Christ to walk this way of suffering to the cross. He had ordained Christ to be the head of the Church. He had required that the perfect sacrifice be made for the sins of the elect.
Don’t you see, this self-condemning answer was necessary for you and for me! Only through the suffering and death of Christ could we be delivered from the bondage of sin! Only through this answer could we, who are by nature enemies of God and His cause, once more be made friends. The very blood that we demanded be shed was the very blood that washed away our sins!
Let us stand in awe at the mystery of Calvary! For He “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification,” (Romans 4:25). For our sakes He bore this reproach! He was despised, rejected of men that we might be accepted by God and never be forsaken by Him! And now Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father. He works by His Spirit and grace in our hearts so that we count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord!