Luke 23:16-20

Luke 23:16 (KJB)
I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

Pilate having Jesus chastised meant that he was going to have Him scourged. No one knows why Pilate chose to have Jesus scourged unless it was in hopes that the Jews would be satisfied with a merciless whipping with the Roman scourge and then the matter would be over because Pilate wanted to release Him after the scourging. Maybe the scourging was over some suggested infraction of the law by Herod. Whatever the reason, if Jesus was innocent of all charges, He should have been released without scourging because scourging was only for those prisoners who were condemned.

Luke 23:17 (KJB)
(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

The Passover was at hand and there was a custom, to appease the nation of Israel and gain favor in their eyes, the Roman governor would release a prisoner. The prisoner would be one of the nation’s choosing. Granting amnesty to a prisoner was also a right given to Roman governors. It was here that Pilate had hoped Jesus would be freed.

Luke 23:18 (KJB)
And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:

I remember some years ago about 1981-2, the New York Times ran an article on Barabbas claiming that it was Jesus who was released. Barabbas means “son of the father.” So the liberal article claimed that Jesus never went to the cross because He was released, being the “Son of the Father.” The attacks on the life of Christ have only increased since 1982 and they are getting worse.

Luke 23:19 (KJB)
(Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)

Barabbas was a murderer but it was the kind of prisoner the Jews wanted released because he had made insurrection against Rome and no doubt killed some Romans. Israel was looking for a Messiah like Joshua who would throw off the yoke of Rome and Barabbas fit the type.

Luke 23:20 (KJB)
Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

Now keep in mind that this was no small crowd which assembled. According to Josephus, there were about a quarter of a million people in Jerusalem that weekend but a crowd that size would not have been able to fit in Pilate’s court yet there would have been room for several thousand and no doubt, it was filled with those who were against Jesus. Pilate then hoped that if he brought Jesus out with Barabbas, they would find that Jesus was innocent and would ask for His release. Barabbas was a violent man and Pilate knew if he was released, then it would only be a matter of a short time that he would be in trouble again. Pilate, in his own way had tried to sway the crowd by only mentioning the name of Jesus and not Barabbas.