13 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.
15 “No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.
16 “Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
17 [Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.]
18 But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!”
19 (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.)
20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,
21 but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!”
22 And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
23 But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.
24 And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted.
25 And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:13–25
Three times in the passage above Luke states that Pilate attempted to release Jesus (verses 16, 20, 22), but those summoned, the chief priests, rulers, and the people, in concert, shouted him down, wanting him instead to release Barabbas, an actual insurrectionist and murderer! (verse 17)
The most disappointing to me of the three parties is “the people.” In past days, they ostensibly sat at Jesus’ feet in the temple and heard the truth, or were within ear’s shot, but some (verse 18) it appears had not been persuaded, or were vulnerable enough to be whipped up into frenzy to now reject him. It’s frankly odd that they are mentioned here (unique to Luke) and it’s worth pondering why.
We know they were close enough in to this spectacle to be “invited” by Pilate along with the chief priests and rulers. It’s almost as if they were selected as a jury of Jesus’ peers. Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ last days, it did not appear that they would turn on him, but apparently some did. I’m sure that the true believers recoiled at the prospect of Jesus’ death on a cross, and looked on in horror, but it’s interesting to note that despite being introduced to the truth by the Son of God himself, that it could still fall on deaf ears. This is the power of Satan to delude and deceive, to “take away” the seeds sown by the road.
The seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Luke 8:11-12
It’s therefore all the more important for all who disseminate the gospel (in theory, all of us), to keep on preaching and teaching it as if it can be easily lost, until it’s fully known beyond a shadow of a doubt that the roots have taken hold and the fruit of faith is clearly evident.
In other words, it bears repeating time and time again, as was the practice of Peter, who knew all too well of our susceptibility to the evil one. (Luke 22:31, 2 Peter 3:1-2)