Oh the power of the mob! If you have watched video clips of Hitler speaking at one of the Nazi rallies, you will understand how a large mass of people can be hyped up to the point where they act completely out of character and do the most terrible things. A reminder that Jerusalem at the time of Passover would have been overflowing, with scarcely room to breathe. The chief priests certainly knew the ways which crowds can be manipulated. It may have been that Barabbas was a local hero, he had committed murder whilst seeking to free Israel from Roman shackles and was somebody whom the Romans would have dearly loved to have seen the end of through crucifixion. This passage demonstrates the terrible weakness of Pilate. Due to his inability to make wise decisions and stick with them, he ends up crucifying a man who had done no harm especially to the Romans and whom his wife expressly told him to free and lets loose a revolutionary who has presumably murdered a Roman soldier! That news will not be well-received by Rome! There has been less than a week from Jesus's triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the crowd proclaiming His Messiahship to this point where they want Him to die! What has happened to cause this change of attitude? One important factor was that it was a different crowd. Those who received Him with joy were from His followers as the disciples had been pre-warned that Jesus was going to parade into the city of God. The crowd here would not have been from that group as the disciples had been caught out. Yes, they had fled the scene of the arrest and were in ones and twos and Peter, their leader, was in no shape to organise support, but also, they had been unaware that the trial of Jesus would happen that very night as they knew that this would contravene the Sanhedrin's regulations. However, the crowd were given the choice: 1. They chose lawlessness instead of law. Barabbas was a confirmed murderer, but the Jews were a nation who loved to upset their oppressor. 2. They chose war instead of peace. The mob were only deciding things in the same way as mankind has been making decisions throughout history and that is through war. 3. They chose hatred and violence instead of love. Don't be surprised that you are rejected by many when they discover that you follow Jesus. Deep in the hearts of many is a deep, bitter hatred which will only be relieved by fighting and law courts, not reconciliation and the way of peace. Pilate's 'decision' was made and without any compassion, he hands the Prince of Peace over to be scourged and crucified. You may remember that Jesus could not manage to walk the Via Dolorosa with the cross. The cross would have been very heavy, but Jesus had been a carpenter most of his life. It was the scourging which had driven the strength out of Him, such terrible dragging over skin and bone, eyes and teeth that many died as a result of it. Don't forget that this was a visceral, humiliating, bloody death, full of awful pain and suffering.