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In praying about what to write this morning, I was drawn to Mark 15, which is about Jesus' trial and crucifixion.
Pilate wanted to release Jesus,
10 For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up because of envy.
What did they envy in Jesus? Perhaps they envied His ability to heal the people and to do various miracles, which they could not deny. That was probably Pilate's perspective. However, prophetically speaking, it ran much deeper than that. Going back to verses 2 and 3, we read,
2 And Pilate questioned Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And answering, He said to him, "It is as you say." 3 And the chief priests began to accuse Him harshly.
What was the nature of their accusation? Obviously, they accused Him of claiming to be a rival king, which they knew would carry political weight. Pilate, however, understood people quite well, and he certainly knew the character of the chief priests. So he tried to defend Jesus by appealing to the custom of releasing a prisoner at Passover. In their harsh legalism, they had developed this token act as a show of mercy.
(This is a lot like Iran's release of one of three American prisoners yesterday. She was released at the end of Ramadan as a token of mercy to show that Islam is a religion of love.)
9 And Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up because of envy.
This context prophetically shows the cause of their envy. It was because He was the King of the Jews (Ioudeos, "Judeans"). The conflict was over the throne of David. Who had the right to the throne?
Keep in mind that this entire conflict over the throne was simply repeating the conflict between David and Absalom in 2 Samuel 15-18. Absalom envied his father's throne and overthrew him to get it. He did so with the help of Ahithophel, David's counselor and friend, whose role was later played by Judas. Both Ahithophel and Judas eventually hanged themselves as well.
Going back to Mark 15, the people demanded that Pilate release Barabbas instead of Jesus. So Pilate's plan backfired, because he underestimated their hatred, and certainly He did not know that the divine plan called for His death to pay for the sin of the world.
Barabbas was an outlaw who had been caught rebelling against Roman rule. He was actually doing what the chief priests would like to have done--overthrow Rome. The chief priests were the "evil figs" of Jeremiah 24, those who refused to submit to the captivity that God had imposed upon them for the sins of their fathers. So the choice of Barabbas reflected the condition of their hearts and showed that they were "evil figs."
In the general conflict between flesh and spirit, the chief priests were the leaders of the fleshly religion of Judaism, which was spawned by Hagar-Jerusalem. The chief priests, metaphorically speaking, were Ishmael, the one born after the flesh who was NOT the inheritor of the promise to Abraham, the man of faith.
But even as Ishmael and Isaac contended for the Birthright (mostly through their mothers), so also did the chief priests contend for the Birthright with Jesus, the rightful Heir. In this conflict, Jesus was mocked (Mark 15:20) and then crucified. This follows the pattern of Ishmael's treatment of Isaac. Genesis 21:9 says that Sarah caught Ishmael "mocking" Isaac, and the book of Jasher says further that he attempted to kill him. Paul says that Ishmael "persecuted" Isaac (Gal. 4:29).
The point is that mocking Jesus showed the connection with Ishmael. Not only was the situation similar, but also the chief priests were representing Ishmael, son of Hagar-Jerusalem.