What Jesus Did! 'Choosing the Criminal over Christ' — John 18:39-40

Saturday, November 19, 2022

[Pilate said to the crowd,] "But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this 'King of the Jews'?"

But they shouted back, "No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!" (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

— John 18:39-40 NLT

Key Thought

At first glance, we look at the choice made by the people on this horrible day when they called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus crucified [1] and wonder how they could do it. However, when we take a long look at ourselves, we are struck by the many times we have chosen other things over Christ in our lives. In fact, that is what sin is — choosing something we want over the will and the work of Jesus! So today, let's be humbled and reminded how fickle we can be. One day we are shouting hosannas and hallelujahs to Jesus, [2] and a short time later we are choosing something totally opposite to Jesus. Let's not trade the lordship of Christ in our lives for anything else, for that would be ... sinful!

[1] John 19:6.
[2] Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12-15) was just a few days before his trial before Pilate.

Today's Prayer

Give me an undivided heart, O God, and help me follow my Lord Jesus Christ with passion and perseverance. Open my eyes to the many things that would distract me from my commitment to Christ, and give me the strength to stay away from them and to keep my focus on Jesus. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 7:21-23
  • Matthew 6:19-24
  • James 4:8


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Illustration of John 18:39-40 NLT — "But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this 'King of the Jews'?"   ——   "No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.