Mark 15: 1-15 tells us of Jesus' trial in front of the Roman leader, Pilate. Jesus refused to answer any questions, even though Pilate was giving him an opportunity to refute the false claims against him.
As was a customary practice, Pilate agreed to free one criminal. This action could have been a way for the occupying government to appease the native people, and it certainly reminded the Jews of their freedom from bondage in Egypt. Perhaps Pilate was hoping the crowd would ask for Jesus to be released, thus absolving him from any part in the "kangaroo court" that had developed. Instead, they cried out to free Barabbas, and Pilate heard the well-know shouts from the crowd to crucify Jesus of Nazareth. "So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified." (v 15)
Can you imagine yourself in the crowd as Pilate asks which prisoner to release? Have you ever been in a large frenzied crowd? How did that feel?
Can you imagine yourself as Pilate? He was an outsider with no desire to become involved in the manipulations of rival religious leaders, he was trying to keep the peace. Pilate must have wondered why Jesus offered no defense. History tells us that Barabbas was jailed for inciting riots and rebellion against the Roman Empire...this is the man who was freed in place of Jesus, who called for his disciples to show love to their enemies above all else?
In what ways are we still presented with the opportunity to confront our culture by choosing the way of love (Jesus Christ) or the way of violence (Barabbas)?