Matthew 27:26-32

So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. Matthew 27:26-32

I wonder where Barabbas went after he was released? I make up in my mind that someone came to his prison cell and shocked him with the news that he was to be released immediately. Can you imagine? Whether or not, as Matthew says, he was a “notorious criminal”, or, as Luke says, he was imprisoned for “insurrection and murder”, Barabbas was a political prisoner. And the fate of political prisoners was crucifixion.

Why? Because it was an excruciatingly painful way to die and it was a very public way to kill someone. Crucifixions usually happened alongside the main roads into a city as a public warning to anyone who might get the crazy idea of crossing the Roman authorities. However long Barabbas was imprisoned, that destiny was his constant companion.

He heard the footsteps. He heard the voice calling his name. And the next thing he knew he was back in the streets of the city, free to go wherever he wanted.

I wonder where he went?

Did he go back to his same old haunt where he could hoist a few glasses of celebratory wine with his old friends?

Or was he curious enough to ask about the reason for his sudden freedom? Was he curious (and potentially grateful enough) to follow the crowds to the edge of town? To the side of the main road? To see the bloodied body of the Jesus who died in his place?

I wonder how Simon felt when he was asked to carry a cross intended for the staggering man surrounded by soldiers. Had he heard of Jesus? Had he met him before? Matthew tells us nothing, no details at all. But it is interesting, isn’t it, to realize that Jesus didn’t carry his cross alone?

The suffering continues and gets worse and worse. Jesus, the King of Kings, the Author of Existence, is treated like a king with his scarlet robes, his reed scepter, his royal title – not honored but beat, spit on, and taunted.

How about us? How do we treat our king? Do we follow Jesus to the cross or do we use our freedom to go party? Do we take up our cross and do our part or do we expect the Christian faith to be a snuggly blanket protecting us from the world?

Let us pray: All that you endured, O Lord, you endured for us. All that you suffered, O Lord, you suffered for us. Give us courage to follow, compassion to care, and the willingness to allow you to birth new life in and through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 27:26-32”

  1. Dave Says:

    Interesting questions! I would like to know the answers. How about us? I love my Lord and try to live a life that reflects his love for me!

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