Now, at the feast, Pilate used to grant the people the release of any one prisoner whom they might ask for.
let them eat husks
this rabble can be tricked
to release the very excuse
I need to further restrict
their available options
there is no freebie
without a corresponding
consequence of obligation
the freedom of one
becomes the downfall of many
to see such machinations
is wearying to the soul
leaving us trapped
exhausted into collaboration
blind to an emperor’s nakedness
We almost have a reversal of the request to have Baptizer John beheaded. Will a once-awed crowd request the release of Jesus?
Regardless of a request from a third party, the action of Herod and Pilate remain their action even as attempts are made to absolve Herod by blaming Herodias and exonerate Pilate by putting the burden upon a Jewish crowd stirred to incivility by both Pilate and the chief priests.
Arguments about the historicity of this sort of amnesty during a festival continue. There are Roman citations that report it and no Jewish records that support it.
Waetjen228–230 focuses on a narrative approach to Mark:
Although the Jewish people are free to choose for themselves whom they want Pilate to pardon—and others, such as the two bandits who were crucified with Jesus, are available!—their choice is actually limited to two individuals. This may appear to be self-contradictory, but it is determined by the design of the author. For the tradition of 15:6–15 dominates the narration of Jesus’ trial before Pilate and conveys a reenactment of a central feature of the very first Passover: divine and human preferences in the binary opposition between the Hebrews and the Egyptians….
The strategy of this piece of repertoire is, rather, to confront the addressees of the Gospel with a similar choice which they must make in their own context. As they reach this point in the story, they too must choose between Jesus and Barabbas. Each of them represents a way into the further of the Passover anticipation of a new world.
Readers are still asked whom they will release in today’s world. Would Jesus ask the release of all prisoners, even the most violent?