Whomsoever They Desired

Posted by on Jan 16, 2005

First Baptist Church Of Ranson, WV

January 16, 2005

Sunday Morning

“Whomsoever They Desired”

Scripture Reading: Mark 15:1-15

Scripture Text: Mark 15:1-15



A.   Pilate has been called by some, “The Most Uncomfortable Man In Jerusalem.”

1. That was almost certainly true when he was faced with the decision of what to do with Jesus.

2. Why do I say that?

3. Because he was, as we would say, between a rock and a hard place. (Amen?)

4. On the one hand, he had the Jews who were pressuring him to put Jesus to death.

5. Look again at Vrs. 12-13 of our text, “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?…And they cried out again, Crucify him.”

6. And so, on the one hand, he had the Jews who were pressuring him to put Jesus to death.

7. On the other hand, he had his wife who was warning him to have nothing to do with Jesus.

8. Listen to Mat. 26:16, “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”

9. You talk about being in an uncomfortable position!

10.   What was Pilate going to do???

B.   It was about then that Pilate came up with what he must have thought was a brilliant idea.


1. It seems that it was customary, around the time of the Jewish Passover feast, perhaps as a gesture of good will, for the Roman governor to pardon and release a prisoner.

2. It just so happened that there was a very notorious prisoner in custody at that time, a man whom everyone had heard about, named Barabbas.

3. Pilate decided that what he would go before the people and offer to release either Jesus or Barabbas, which ever one they chose.

4. I’m sure he was thinking that in no way would they choose Barabbas, knowing how dangerous a criminal he was, but instead would choose Jesus.

5. That way he could set Jesus free without incurring the wrath of the Jews.


C.   Sound like a good plan?

1. I’m sure it did to Pilate, but it didn’t work.

2. When Pilate asked them to choose, much to his surprise they chose Barabbas!

3. Look again at Vrs. 9-11, “But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?…For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy….But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.”

4. We know how the story ended, don’t we?

5. Pilate finally ended up caving in to the demands of the Jews and releasing Barabbas, while at the same time delivering Jesus to be crucified.

6. Look again at Vrs. 15, “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.”


D.   For the next few minutes, this morning, I want us to focus our attention on these two men, Barabbas and Jesus.


E.   Notice, first of all, the


I.       Contrast Between Barabbas And Jesus.


A.   No matter how long and hard you look, you won’t find two men who are any more different than Barabbas and Jesus (they were as different as night and day).


B.   Let’s consider Barabbas, first of all.

1. What kind of a man was he?

2. The first thing that we are told about Barabbas is that he was a criminal.

3. How do we know that?

4. Because Vrs. 6 of our text tells us that he was a “prisoner” of the Roman authorities in Jerusalem, and as a general rule, only criminals were imprisoned.

5. Not only was he a criminal, but according to Mat. 27:16, he was a very “notable” (notorious) criminal.

6. In other words, he had a reputation throughout the city of Jerusalem.


C.   What crimes had Barabbas committed to make him so notable?

1. At least three.

2. First of all, he had committed the crime of “robbery.”

3. Listen to part of the apostle John’s account of this event, recorded in John 18:40, “Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.”

4. In other words, he was a common thief.

5. But that’s not all.

6. According to Vrs. 7 of our text, he was also guilty of “insurrection,” in other words, trying to overthrow the Roman government.

7. This is probably the crime that had gained him such notoriety among the Jews.

8. But there is at least one more crime that he was guilty of, and that was the crime of “murder.” (Vrs. 7)


9. This is why the apostle Peter later said what he did to the Jews in Jerusalem, immediately after he had healed the impotent man who lay at the temple gate.

10.   It is recorded in Acts 3:13-14, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go…But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;”


D.   What kind of a man was Barabbas?

1. He was a criminal.

2. And not just a criminal, but a notorious criminal who had committed robbery and insurrection and murder.

3. (Illus.- You know who I would liken him to today? I would liken him to Timothy McVeigh. He was the Timothy McVeigh of his day.)


E.   Now let’s consider Jesus.

1. What kind of a man was He?

2. Well, let’s let other’s speak on His behalf.

3. Do you remember what Pilate himself said about Jesus, after he had examined him? He said, “I find no fault in this man.” (Luke 23:4)

4. Do you remember what the Roman soldier said about Jesus, right after He had given up the ghost? He said, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47)

5. Do you remember what Paul wrote about Jesus in 2 Cor. 5:21? He said, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

6. Do you remember what Peter wrote about Jesus in 1 Pet. 2:21-22? He said, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:..Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”


F.    Do you see the contrast now between Barabbas and Jesus?

1. Barabbas was a criminal, Jesus was chaste.

2. Barabbas was a robber, Jesus was righteous.

3. Barabbas was a seditionist, Jesus was a saint.

4. Barabbas was a murderer, Jesus was model of morality.

5. They were like night and day.


G.   Now this brings us to the second thing that I want us to notice this morning, and that is the…


II.      Choice Between Barabbas And Jesus.


A.   Pilate gave the people a very real choice, Barabbas or Jesus!

1. (Illus.- A couple of times, during the past presidential campaign, I heard people say something similar to this, “There’s no real choice because there’s no real difference between the candidates.” While I personally don’t agree with that statement, I can certainly understand how people can feel that way about some political candidates. Sometimes, I must admit, there is very little real choice, because one is as bad as the other. Amen?)

2. But that was certainly not the case here.

3. And so, Pilate gave the people a very real choice between two very different people, Barabbas and Jesus.


B.   You know, God has also given us a very real choice to make in this life.

1. I’m reminded of what Joshua told the children of Israel just before he went to his heavenly reward, he said, “…choose you this day.” (Josh. 24:15)

2. In other words, he said, “You all have a choice to make.”

3. We too have a choice to make in this life.

4. Just like the Jews before whom Pilate stood offering them either Barabbas or Jesus, we too have to choose between Barabbas and Jesus.


5. Not literally, of course, but we too have to choose between…

-evil and good,

-darkness and light,

-wickedness and righteousness.

6. But someone says, “Preacher, you make it sound so black and white!”

7. It is black and white!!!

8. Now I realize that children are being taught today that there are no “black and white” choices (that everything is grey), but I assure you that is not the case.

9. Contrary to what many would have us to believe,…

-abortion is a black verses white choice,

-homosexuality is a black verses white choice,

-fornication is a black verses white choice.

10.   Life is full of “black and white” choices, including the one that I am talking about right now.


C.   Now when it comes to making this choice, there are a couple of pitfalls that we must avoid.

1. First of all, we must avoid letting others influence us to make the wrong choice.

2. That’s exactly what Pilate did.

3. He let the cries of the Jews and the pressure that they were putting on him cause him to make the wrong choice.

4. We must guard against that.

5. This is true especially when it comes to young people.

6. There is so much pressure put on young people today by their peers to make the wrong choices.

7. Listen, young people, you must not give in to that pressure.

8. Be your own person.

9. Make your own choices, not based on what others will think about you, but on what is good and what is right and what is acceptable to God.


D.   The second pitfall we must avoid is procrastination.

1. In other words, putting off making the right choice.

2. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say something similar to this, “Preacher, you are right. I know that I need to be saved and I fully intend to come to Christ some day, just not today.”

3. I’m reminded of a question that the prophet Elijah asked while standing on Mt. Carmel, he said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

4. The next worse thing to making the wrong choice is making no choice at all.

5. (Illus.- All throughout the presidential campaign, the news media kept talking about the “undecided,” and every time I heard about these people I would aggravated and ask myself the question, “How can anyone be undecided when you have two candidates who are so different?”)

6. And so, when it comes to choosing between Barabbas and Jesus, you have to be careful to avoid two pitfalls,…

-letting others influence you to make the wrong choice,

-procrastinating, putting off making the right choice.


E.   Thus far we have noticed…

1. The contrast between Barabbas and Jesus.

2. The choice between Barabbas and Jesus.

3. Finally, this morning, I want us to notice the…


III.    Consequences Of Choosing Barabbas Over Jesus.


A.   That’s exactly what the Jews did, they chose Barabbas over Jesus.


B.   What are the consequences of choosing Barabbas over Jesus?

1. If you are unsaved, the consequences are an eternity in what the Bible calls the “lake of fire.”


2. Listen to Rev. 21:7-8, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son…But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

3. You want to choose Barabbas?

4. You have the freedom to make that choice, but please realize fully the consequences of that choice.

5. Barabbas today, the lake of fire tomorrow.


C.   The consequences are different for those who are saved.

1. But someone says, “Is it possible for a saved person to choose Barabbas?”

2. Yes it is.

3. There are many many people who choose Christ as their Savior, but then choose Barabbas as the model for the life that they live.

4. What are the consequences of doing this?

5. The consequences of doing this are a wasted life.

6. Listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 3:11-15, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ….Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;…Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is….If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward….If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

7. One of the greatest tragedies of all time is the tragedy of a wasted life (we only have one to live for Christ).



A.   What have we noticed this morning?

1. The contrast between Barabbas and Jesus.

2. The choice between Barabbas and Jesus.

3. The consequences of choosing Barabbas over Jesus.


B.   Let me ask you a question.

1. What choice are you going to make?

2. Someone says, “I’m going to make the right choice one day. I’m going to choose Jesus one day, I’m just not ready to do it now.”

3. Remember what I said earlier, one of the pitfalls to be avoided is putting off making the right choice.

4. You know, if you have not chosen Christ, there is a sense in which you have already chosen Barabbas?

5. Did not Jesus say in Mat. 12:30, “He that is not with me is against me;”?

6. What choice are you going to make?

7. Are you willing to make that choice this morning.


C.   (Prayer & Invitation)