|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!
Verses 15-26. - Barabbas preferred to Jesus. (Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:17-25; John 18:39, 40.) Verse 15. - Pilate now tries another expedient for delivering himself from the responsibility of condemning Jesus. At that feast (κατὰ ἑορτήν, at a feast, at feast time). Doubtless the Passover is meant, which was the feast especially of the Jews, and it is very improbable that the practice mentioned in the clause was allowed at any other of the feasts. The governor was wont to release unto the people (τῷ ὄχλῳ, the multitude), etc. St. Luke says, "Of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast." The custom is not elsewhere mentioned. It was, however, most probably an institution established of old time in memory of the Exodus (John 18:39), and continued by the Romans when they became masters of the country. A similar custom obtained at Rome and in Greece on certain great festivals. Whom they would. The governor usually left the priests and people unfettered in their choice; on the present occasion he desired Jesus to be selected.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now at that feast,.... The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "at every feast": which looks as if the authors of these versions thought the sense was, that the following custom was used at each feast in the year, at the feasts of pentecost, and tabernacles, and passover; whereas it was only at the feast of the passover; and which is meant by the feast here, as is clear from John 18:39. It was but once a year that this was done; at every returning passover; and so the Persic version renders it, "every year on the day of the feast"; that is, of the passover, and which was frequently called by way of emphasis, "the feast":
the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. It was not a law, but a custom; it was not enjoined by the law of Moses; for they that sinned against that; died without mercy: nor is it agreeable to strict justice, that there should be such a release of criminals; nor was it a Jewish custom, as an emblem of their deliverance out of Egyptian bondage. I have not met with the least trace of any such custom of theirs at the time of the pass over in any of their writings; but it seems to be a Roman one: and from all the accounts of the evangelist, it appears to be peculiar to the Roman governor, who, either by the order of Caesar, or of himself, introduced such a custom to get the favour of the people; for it was to them the release was made, and the person, whom they pleased; and this being repeated annually for some time, was expected by them, and at last became necessary.
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