18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
(Ecce Homo Antonio Ciseri)
Thoughts: To trade the one who was clearly guilty for the One who was totally innocent should give us pause about human judgment of right and wrong. Pilate tried at least four times to not condemn Jesus: 1) He told the Jews to settle it themselves; 2) He sent Jesus to Herod; 3) He tried to release him for the Passover; 4) He tried to just have him whipped/scourged. Each time evil persisted. Evil persists until it can go no farther. The bully persists until there is surrender; the abuser will not stop until something is done to stop them; Human evil seems unstoppable. But the cross is a sign that evil has an end, and the resurrection is a sign that evil will not win even after it stops. In the end the guilty are brought to account, and right wins. Every Christian, especially the persecuted, should have this hope.
Prayer: Give me discernment, O Lord, to see what is right. Help me to be just in my judgments, and thankful for your grace.