April 10 – Matthew 27:15-23
The contrast couldn’t be clearer. On one side the crowd had Barabbas, a participant or leader of attempted insurrection who had fought in some way to restore the kingdom of Israel. On the other they had the actual king of Israel, whose eternal kingdom would be ushered in not through inflicting violence but through being afflicted. On one hand they had a legitimate criminal, on the other the sinless Son of God. In this instance we see a choice set before them between the kingdom of man and the Kingdom of God. And Jesus knew which they would choose.
But we’ll take some time in discussion to think through what this moment was like for Jesus. By this point in the story, based on his confessions (Matt. 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18), he has known he would suffer death for some time. Most likely Jesus went into this moment with no question in his mind about the outcome. However, consider the toll of such a public rejection, of hearing the crowds whom he has wept over (Matt. 23:37), who welcomed him with cries of “Hosanna!”, shout, “Crucify him!” Here he experienced at the hands of his own people the very thing he wept over. And consider what it was like for him to experience the choice set before his people between the kingdom of man and his own Kingdom. Here was a dramatic portrayal of the whole of human history from Genesis 3 to Jesus’ day, a redux of mankind’s rejection of God and his goodness. Here is the reason Jesus came in the first place, the reason he must inevitably head to Golgotha with a cross on his back: mankind has refused their God and is hopelessly lost in sin.
• What stood out to you in the passage?
• What do you think is significant about the injustice of this scene?
• What do you think this moment was like for Jesus?
• Why do you think the people rejected Jesus?
• What emotions does this story stir up in you?
• How does this scene help us better understand Jesus’ suffering in our place?
• Easter is this coming Sunday–what do you hope to gain out of Easter week this year?