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MATTHEW - Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew
PART 5 - Christ's Suffering and Death (Matthew 26:1-27:66)

21. The Choosing of an Insurgent (Matthew 27:15-23)

MATTHEW 27:15-20
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the multitude one prisoner, whom they desired. 16 They had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
(John 12:19)

Barabbas was an insurgent, criminal, and enemy of Rome. Pilate gave the elders a dangerous choice concerning him. If they asked to free Barabbas, they would be aligning themselves with the enemies of Rome. Therefore, Pilate tried to draw the elders into a trap, offering to release either Jesus or Barabbas, for he knew that Jesus was peace-loving and not a rebel.

It is not likely that the governor’s wife had heard much concerning Jesus, at least not so as to dream of Him. So it is apparent that her dream was from God. Perhaps she was one of the devout and honorable women who had some sense of religion. However, God does reveal Himself by dreams to some who are not religious, such as Nebuchadnezzar.

Pilate’s wife suffered because of this dream. Whether it concerned the cruel treatment of an innocent person or the judgment that would fall upon those responsible for his death, it was a frightful dream, and her thoughts troubled her.

The testimony of the governor’s wife was an honor to our Lord Jesus. She referred to Him as a “just man,” even when He was persecuted as the worst of criminals. When even His friends were afraid to appear in defense of Him, God made those who were strangers and enemies to speak in His favor. Although Peter denied Him, Judas acknowledged Him. When the chief priests pronounced Him guilty of death, Pilate declared that he found no fault in Him. While the women who followed Jesus stood afar off, Pilate’s wife, who knew little of Him, showed sincere concern for Him.

God will not leave Himself without witnesses to the truth, even when it seems to be spitefully run down by its enemies and shamefully deserted by its friends. The governor believed in ghosts and trusted in them. He did not know the true God but was afraid of numerous gods, ghosts, and spirits. Yet his wife heard about Jesus’ merciful works and became confused about His arrest. God increased her anxiety to the point that she thought that her husband was about to commit the worst mistake of his life. She was not ashamed to send a messenger to warn him strongly and save him from the judgment against a transgressor of God’s will.

PRAYER: Heavenly Lord, We bow our heads before Your unmeasured love, for You gave Your only begotten Son to die for us and reconcile us to You. You suffered with Your Son every moment of His sufferings. You did not exterminate His enemies, but loved them and guided Your Son to complete the way of the cross. You did this in order to atone for all sinners and justify them so that they might repent and believe in You by the power of the Holy Spirit.


  1. Why did Pilate offer the Jews both Barabbas and Jesus that one might be chosen and the other one released?


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