Judas finally understands where his actions have led and he kills himself. His grief at Jesus' arrest suggests that this wasn't his intention.
The soldiers vent years of frustration from policing Jewish uprisings onto this one man, Jesus.
Pilate tries to placate the crowd and protect the empire from further Jewish disturbances. He is exposed as a weak man.
Barabbas, a criminal, is released in the place of Jesus. Matthew paints a picture of what will soon happen on the cross and at the resurrection.
The crowd laughs and jeers.
Simon is forced to help Jesus carry his cross to Golgotha.
This story is familiar and terrifying all at once. As we lead up to the crucifixion tomorrow I encourage you to make the time to reread this story in full. Read it slowly. Read it as though it was your first time. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions of this journey to the cross.
Read it as though you are Judas - a man who has just realized that the friend he betrayed will certainly be killed and that nothin he can do can take back what he has done.
Read it as though you are one of the soldiers, or someone in the crowd shouting for Jesus to die.
Read it as though you are Simon or Pilate's wife. the only two characters who do not take pleasure in the thought of this man dying.
Read it as though you are Barabbas. You have been freed unexpectedly. What is it like to walk past the man who has bought your freedom?
May our prayer be this: Lord, save us from familiarity. Save us from status quo interpretations and comfortably quick readings. Shock us. In our realization that we identify closely with the people who shout for your death help us to mourn."