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Mark’s first-century biography – page 46

Now at a feast he (Pilate, Roman Governor of Judea, Jerusalem, c. AD 30) would set free for them one prisoner for whom they pleaded. But there was a man stated as ‘Barabbas’ among the imprisoned insurgents, who had committed murder in the insurgency, and the crowd, stepping up, began to ask Pilate to do accordingly for them. 
Jesus has been brought before Pilate by “the high priests … with the elders and scribes and the whole council.” Pilate is “amazed” that Jesus does not respond in any way to multiple allegations, save one. He is accused of being “the King of Jews”, that being a crime punishable by death. He agrees. 

And he responded to them, stating, “You wish that I may set free for you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that through envy the high priests had given him over. 

Pilate does not want to order Jesus’ crucifixion. “Barabbas” – the stated name of another prisoner – means “Son of the Father”.  This was a blasphemous name for the high priests - worse in their eyes than “King of the Jews” because it was a direct claim to deity. Barabbas was a murderer; Jesus had raised the dead.


“Envy” has as its basis the protection against all comers of my own view of my own position in this world. “Envy” is stronger than religion; stronger than truth; stronger than anyone else’s life; stronger than God – any God - above.

‘If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.’ (Danish Proverb)
But the high priests stirred up the crowd so that instead he might set free for them Barabbas. But Pilate, responding, stated again to them, “Then what do you wish I may do with the man you state as ‘the King of the Jews’?” 

The “crowd” comprised the high priests and other senior, notable and learned folk plus those understandably obedient to them. 

But they shouted again, “Crucify him.” But Pilate stated to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted exceedingly, “Crucify him.” But Pilate, wanting to do enough for the crowd, set free for them Barabbas, and, having scourged Jesus, he gave him over so that he might be crucified. 

Pilate’s plan fails because the “crowd” (comprised as above) is motivated by “envy”. What motivates Pilate? Historians have established that Pilate’s standing in Rome was under threat. Was it self-interest? But why “scourge Jesus”? Did he do that to mislead – to show that he was not a crowd-pleaser?

But the soldiers led him away inside the courtyard (that is, a praitorium), and they call together the whole battalion. And they dress him in a purple cloth and, twisting together a thorny crown, they surround him. And they began to welcome him, “Rejoice! King of the Jews!” 

Jesus is now “inside the courtyard” of Pilate. Mark, his biographer, adds that this interior courtyard “is a praitorium” – a domain of real practical, life-and-death judgment and power. Interestingly, those in authority in this courtyard are (as it were) ordinary people – ordinary foot-soldiers. Here they are, in effect, democratic decision-makers. Now that they are alone with Jesus they vote unanimously in favour of mockery. Like today.

And they were striking on his head with a reed and were spitting on him and, bending the knee, were worshiping him. 

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, for the good he is seeking.’ (Mary Wollstonecraft, philosopher, 1759-1797)
As part of the mockery, the democratic people unite in play-acting and in a pretence of humility and worship. Like today.

And while they mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloth and they dressed him in his own clothes and they led him out so that they might crucify him.

The mockery continued during the removal of the kingly purple, the replacement of his own garments, and the exiting of the democratic courtyard so as to carry out the agreed “Crucify Him” decision. Like today. 

As Samuel Crossman, preacher and writer, 1623-1683, wrote -
They rise and needs will have / My dear Lord made away; 
A murderer they save, / The Prince of life they slay, 
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes, / That He His foes from thence might free.

Sinner Syvret

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