Seeing that Herod had not punished Jesus, Pilate again asserts His innocence and his intention to let Him go.Clearly Jesus has done something to upset the Sanhedrin, but it hasn’t been misleading the people or trying to set Himself up as their king. In an attempt to appease the Jewish leaders, he says he will punish Jesus, which probably means flogging Him.
The Council members will have none of it. They want Jesus dead and they want it done today. It was Pilate’s custom to release a prisoner for the Passover feast, and they demand Pilate release Barabbas. This might be the greatest irony of the whole story, for Luke tells us that Barabbas was actually guilty of the things they accuesd Jesus of: insurrection. On top of that, he was a murderer as well. It’s the perfect example of what Jesus’s crucifixion is all about. A guilty man goes free and the innocent man takes his place and his punishment. Justice is served because Jesus chose to do this, and by His perfectly righteous life, He is qualified to take the punishment as a substitute for all of us and atone for the sins of everyone.
Eventually, Pilate gives in to the mob’s demands. As might be expected, he was not a popular ruler, and the Jews were fractious under his harsh rule. He likely felt that he couldn’t afford a riot or any other fallout caused by the Sanhedrin whipping up the people if they didn’t get the blood they were clamoring for. A man makes his decision, and God’s plan is fulfilled through it as was promised long ago.
Only You, O Lord, can take what was meant for evil and use it for good.