Thanking the Mob: Matthew 27:15-26

Focus Passage: Matthew 27:15-26 (NIrV)

15 It was the governor’s practice at the Passover Feast to let one prisoner go free. The people could choose the one they wanted. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to set free? Jesus Barabbas? Or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 Pilate knew that the leaders wanted to get their own way. He knew this was why they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don’t have anything to do with that man. He is not guilty. I have suffered a great deal in a dream today because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders talked the crowd into asking for Barabbas and having Jesus put to death.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to set free?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What wrong has he done?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere. Instead, the crowd was starting to get angry. So he took water and washed his hands in front of them. “I am not guilty of this man’s death,” he said. “You are accountable for that!”

25 All the people answered, “Put the blame for his death on us and our children!”

26 Pilate let Barabbas go free. But he had Jesus whipped. Then he handed him over to be nailed to a cross.

Read Matthew 27:15-26 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During the last hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, at the close of His trial, Matthew brings out a fascinating piece of information that is especially interesting for those of us who know how this event ends. At this point in the trial, Pilate has fully realized that the crowd and religious leaders simply brought a Man (Jesus) to him to be put to death. He realized that they really were not looking for a trial; they simply wanted a judgment of guilty.

Pilate kept telling the people that Jesus had nothing that was worthy of death, but that didn’t matter to the crowd. All they pressed for was crucifixion. Perhaps this was to make Jesus’ death as public as possible, or maybe it was simply to cause Him pain and agony, but whatever the reason, they had fixated themselves on this method of death. Nothing that Pilate could say or do to convince them of Jesus’ innocence would satisfy them.

The way Matthew concludes his version of the trial is amazing: “Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere. Instead, the crowd was starting to get angry. So he took water and washed his hands in front of them. ‘I am not guilty of this man’s death,’ he said. ‘You are accountable for that!’” (v. 24)

Pilate washes his hands publicly to symbolically tell the crowd that he has removed himself from this trial. While he doesn’t free Jesus against the crowd’s wishes, he also knows Jesus doesn’t deserve death.

However, the way the crowd responds to Pilate is incredible. Whether it was several people, or the crowd yelling back in unison, the collectively answered, “Put the blame for his death on us and our children!” (v. 25)

The crowd and religious leaders were willing to take the blame for the death of God’s Son, and they were willing to extend blame onto the next generation. Is this a symbolic statement about the shift of God’s favor away from the Jewish nation? If the crowd represented the Jewish people, would their actions and willingness to take the blame change God’s favor towards them as a nation?

These are questions I don’t know the answer to – but I do know that we should thank this crowd and the religious leaders for their actions.

If it wasn’t for these religious leaders, and also the crowd, pushing for Jesus’ death, then our opportunity for salvation would not have been accomplished. Jesus’ death makes a way for us to become right with God again – not because of anything we did, but because of everything He did.

The crowd represented humanity, and Jesus came, knowing humanity would reject Him, in order to save those who truly wanted a restored relationship with God. We should thank the mob, the religious leaders, and the crowd for pressing for Jesus’ death, because it is only through Jesus’ death that we can have eternal life with God in heaven!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

Subscribe to this blog and never miss an insight.

Managing God’s Vineyard: Mark 12:1-12


Read the Transcript

Continuing our journey into the week Jesus was crucified, we come to one of Jesus’ more challenging, controversial parables. While the parable isn’t all that challenging to us living today, at least on the surface, it spoke in a powerful way to those living in the first century who heard His words in the temple.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 12, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

Then Jesus spoke to them in parables: “Once there was a man who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip. When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent a slave to the tenants to receive from them his share of the harvest. The tenants grabbed the slave, beat him, and sent him back without a thing. Then the owner sent another slave; the tenants beat him over the head and treated him shamefully. The owner sent another slave, and they killed him; and they treated many others the same way, beating some and killing others. The only one left to send was the man’s own dear son. Last of all, then, he sent his son to the tenants. ‘I am sure they will respect my son,’ he said. But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the owner’s son. Come on, let’s kill him, and his property will be ours!’ So they grabbed the son and killed him and threw his body out of the vineyard.

“What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do?” asked Jesus. “He will come and kill those tenants and turn the vineyard over to others. 10 Surely you have read this scripture?

‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless
    turned out to be the most important of all.
11 This was done by the Lord;
    what a wonderful sight it is!’”

12 The Jewish leaders tried to arrest Jesus, because they knew that he had told this parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

This passage is powerful because without clearly saying so, Jesus clearly challenges the religious leaders about their leadership and their attitudes towards God. This parable is profound in a number of ways. While some in the crowd listening to Jesus might miss the parallel in Jesus’ choice of describing a man building a vineyard, this detail would not have been missed by the religious leaders. While He could have described any type of farm, Jesus chose a vineyard because it referenced a key challenge towards Jerusalem and Israel in the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 5, we discover a powerful parallel:

Listen while I sing you this song,
    a song of my friend and his vineyard:
My friend had a vineyard
    on a very fertile hill.
He dug the soil and cleared it of stones;
    he planted the finest vines.
He built a tower to guard them,
    dug a pit for treading the grapes.
He waited for the grapes to ripen,
    but every grape was sour.

So now my friend says, “You people who live in Jerusalem and Judah, judge between my vineyard and me. Is there anything I failed to do for it? Then why did it produce sour grapes and not the good grapes I expected?

“Here is what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge around it, break down the wall that protects it, and let wild animals eat it and trample it down. I will let it be overgrown with weeds. I will not trim the vines or hoe the ground; instead, I will let briers and thorns cover it. I will even forbid the clouds to let rain fall on it.”

Israel is the vineyard of the Lord Almighty;
    the people of Judah are the vines he planted.
He expected them to do what was good,
    but instead they committed murder.
He expected them to do what was right,
    but their victims cried out for justice.

When we read about the religious leaders being upset about Jesus’ parable in our passage from Mark’s gospel, we clearly can see that they saw the connection with Isaiah’s passage. Isaiah’s passage leaves no room for interpretation.

This parable Jesus shared is found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as well. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus make’s His big climactic statement a question, which the people listening respond to Jesus’ question with Isaiah’s answer. In Luke’s gospel, the people respond with shock and a little disbelief.

Seeing this minor discrepancy might make one doubt the gospel record, but these subtle differences draw our attention to the big truth that there were people present who responded in both ways. In this crowd, there were people present who made the connection to Isaiah’s prophecy before Jesus had even finished the parable, and people who were shocked to learn that there would be an eventual end to the owner’s patience.

However, this parable and Isaiah’s message point us to an interesting conclusion: While the evil tenants in Jesus’ parable are killed and the vineyard is turned over to others, Isaiah’s message describes the vineyard illustration as being equally about God and His chosen people. Isaiah’s message challenges those present by saying in verses 3 and 4: “So now my friend says, ‘You people who live in Jerusalem and Judah, judge between my vineyard and me. Is there anything I failed to do for it? Then why did it produce sour grapes and not the good grapes I expected?’

Isaiah’s passage draws our attention onto the big truth that God’s character is on trial. God gave His people every blessing and advantage He could imagine, and they still rejected Him. This then becomes a challenge to those who don’t believe in free will. While we might not understand every choice we make, and while not all choices are easy or even positive, we have been given the freedom of choice. If we humanity didn’t have a choice, then God is ultimately to blame for the state of this world.

God describes how He did everything for His people, and they still rejected Him. We could transpose this idea onto the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve eating the fruit, or even earlier when the Lucifer and the rest of the angels were created in Heaven.

When the angels were created in heaven, Lucifer included, everything was created perfectly. If Lucifer had been created in a way that bent him towards sin in any way, then he would not have been perfect, and his choice to hold God accountable for his own choice would be a valid argument. If Adam and Eve were created with the desire to sin, then God would be at fault.

However, just because God knows the future doesn’t mean those He creates don’t have the freedom of choice. In a similar way, just because you can re-watch a movie and the characters do the exact same things as the first times you watched doesn’t mean that the characters in the movie had no choice. In all cases, God created a perfect scenario with free will being given to those He created, and those He created chose to reject Him.

Jesus tells us in His parable that the vineyard would be given to others. However, just because this could symbolize the end of literal Israel being identified as God’s chosen people, we shouldn’t forget the big truth this parable teaches:

God gives everyone the freedom to choose Him or not. (This truth we find in Isaiah.)

And God is looking for a people who will return His portion of fruit to Him. While those in Israel may have rejected God, pushing God to look elsewhere, don’t think for a moment that means we are exempt from the same expectation. If we choose to not be fruitful towards God, we will face the same realization that the Jews did in Jesus’ time: God will seek out another group to focus on.

The challenge for us to remember is to be fruitful towards God, and to return His portion of what He has blessed us with.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and be sure to thank Him for what He has blessed you with. Be sure to return to Him His portion of what He has ultimately blessed you with. Remember that without God giving you life, you would be nothing, and this means that everything you achieve is because He gave you opportunity.

Also, be sure to always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to discover what He is really like. While a pastor or podcaster can give you things to think about, only through personal prayer and study can you discover this for yourself!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 7: When Jesus shares about some evil tenants of a vineyard who refuse to give the owner his share of the produce, we discover how this parable challenged those in Israel on a profound level, and how this parable alludes to God being judged.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

There’s Value in Being Different: Matthew 20:29-34

Focus Passage: Mark 10:46-52 / Luke 18:35-43 / Matthew 20:29-34 (GNT)

46 They came to Jericho, and as Jesus was leaving with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

48 Many of the people scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up!” they said. “Get up, he is calling you.”

50 So he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

“Teacher,” the blind man answered, “I want to see again.”

52 “Go,” Jesus told him, “your faith has made you well.”

At once he was able to see and followed Jesus on the road.


35 As Jesus was coming near Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road, begging. 36 When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked, “What is this?”

37 “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him.

38 He cried out, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

39 The people in front scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

40 So Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Sir,” he answered, “I want to see again.”

42 Jesus said to him, “Then see! Your faith has made you well.”

43 At once he was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving thanks to God. When the crowd saw it, they all praised God.


29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. 30 Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

31 The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them.

33 “Sir,” they answered, “we want you to give us our sight!”

34 Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed him.

Read Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43, and Matthew 20:29-34 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Have you ever doubted the gospels because one gospel tells the story a little differently than the others?

Do the differences in the gospels ever make you wonder if these stories are made up – because there is not consensus between the details?

In this passage, and its parallel passages in Matthew and Luke, we find such a possible discrepancy, however, when looking a little closer, and knowing that Jesus healed many people, we find that there are enough differences to perhaps conclude that these are two different, similar events.

When we look at the broad overview of these passages, Jesus is just outside of Jericho, there is a crowd, He heals blindness, and the formerly blind individual(s) follow Him. It is these similar details that link these events together, and it is possible that they are describing the same event.

If this is the case, then Matthew’s gospel is unique in one key detail when compared with Mark and Luke. In Matthew’s version of this event, there are two blind people not one.

It is differences like these that make some people question whether the gospel stories are accurate. Why would Matthew say two if there was only one, or Mark and Luke say one when there were really two? If we cannot trust the disciples to remember the details of a single healing accurately, doesn’t that cast a shadow on other things they said as well?

It is doubts like these that cause people to discount the gospels as mere stories and to abandon their faith.

But there is another key difference between Matthew’s version and the other two. Matthew opens his passage with “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho. . .” (v.29). This is distinctly different because Mark and Luke both give indication to say that Jesus was “coming” to Jericho.

This difference and the difference in the number of healed blind men make me believe that these are two similar events, not two different versions of the same event. Jesus attracted crowds when He traveled; Jesus healed countless people; and many people followed Jesus after being healed. These similarities are similarities with most of Jesus other miracles. It is illogical to think that only one or two people were healed outside of Jericho’s walls.

Here is the big idea: The differences in the gospel accounts are there to help us see how broad Jesus’ ministry was. There was not enough room to fit everything Jesus did onto paper, and each gospel writer pulled events to help his audience fall in love with Jesus. Sometimes multiple gospels share the same story, other times, similar ones. These differences are there to help us see a bigger picture of Jesus – something which is meant to strengthen our faith – not weaken it.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

Subscribe to this blog and never miss an insight.

Fearing What Might Happen: Matthew 21:23-27

Focus Passage: Matthew 21:23-27 (CEV)

23 Jesus had gone into the temple and was teaching when the chief priests and the leaders of the people came up to him. They asked, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus answered, “I have just one question to ask you. If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. 25 Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”

They thought it over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 26 On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet, and we are afraid of what they might do to us. That’s why we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize.” 27 So they told Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do.”

Read Matthew 21:23-27 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of the times Jesus was visiting the temple, the religious leaders challenged Him with the question about where He received His authority. This is an important question for each of us to answer because it is foundational for who Jesus is to be for each of us.

However, it was important for Jesus to not answer this question, because either way He answered, He would negatively impact His ministry. By answering truthfully, Jesus might bring about a premature end to His ministry at the hands of these religious leaders. By lying, Jesus would have sinned and also He would have lost credibility from the crowd who believed Him to be from God.

Jesus responds with an equally unanswerable question: Who gave John the right to baptize? It is in Jesus’ counter-question that we see the exact same two possible answers that Jesus could give in His own response to the leaders’ challenge.

Whether Matthew asked people later, or whether he overheard their discussion, he includes what the leaders discuss. When they pull away to discuss how they should answer, they realize they are in trouble. They concluded that, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet, and we are afraid of what they might do to us. That’s why we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize.” (v. 25b-26)

On one hand, the biased belief of the leaders tied their hands from responding that John got his authority from God. If they admit that God gave John the authority, then Jesus would have an opening to challenge them on why they didn’t believe John.

But on the other hand, the popular opinion of the crowd was that John did receive authority to baptize from God, and if they claimed otherwise, they weren’t sure if they would still be alive that evening.

The leaders’ fear of the people and their unbelief in John kept them from responding truthfully to Jesus.

What I find interesting is that fear of what might happen stopped these leaders from responding. A riot over a question Jesus asked would not benefit His ministry. A riot and mass stoning of the leaders in Jesus’ presence would be a very bad sign to the Romans looking at the situation. And the leaders pride and ego stop them from answering to please the people.

Fear holds many people in a similar way today. Many people are trapped by the fear of what might happen. This fear is crippling because it is often over-exaggerated and rarely ever accurate. This fear stopped Jesus from sharing the truth about where He received His authority – which helped Him finish His mission – but it is a fear we must all conquer when wrestling with the question about who Jesus is for us.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

Subscribe to this blog and never miss an insight.