The Crowd Frees Barabas

One Verb Prayers in Response to Jesus’ Journey to the Cross: Free

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Good Friday is the redemptively named day of Holy Week. It is good because of its outcome, not its events. Join me in praying today’s One Verb Prayer in Response to Jesus’ Journey to the Cross.

Today’s verb is Free from Mark 15: 5-13 and John 19: 9-11

Mark 15: 5-13

But Jesus still did not reply. Pilate was amazed.

It was the usual practice at the Passover Feast to let one prisoner go free. The people could choose the one they wanted. 

A man named Barabbas was in prison. He was there with some other people who had fought against the country’s rulers. They had committed murder while they were fighting against the rulers. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to let the king of the Jews go free?” asked Pilate. He knew that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they wanted to get their own way. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd. So the crowd asked Pilate to let Barabbas go free instead.

“Then what should I do with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” the crowd shouted.

Many read this passage and place blame for Jesus not being freed on the crowd. Well deserved maybe. They shouted for the thief and insurrectionist, Barabas to be released rather than Jesus after all. Except in the John 9 passage when Pilate said to Jesus, “Don’t you understand? I have the power to set you free or to nail you to a cross,” Jesus answered, “You were given power from heaven. If you weren’t, you would have no power over me.”

Pilate nor the crowd had any real power in this situation. Barabas was freed because God allowed it and Jesus took his place. So it is for us as well. Our government, money, proclamations, intellect, or whatever we hold tight in our fists has no real power to free us. What we struggle to understand is only the Father through Jesus Christ has the power to set us free. 

Free me, God of angel armies, from my false hope, from my self-imprisonment, from my enemies, and finally from the snare of my sinfulness.


Holy Saturday, the day Jesus lay in the tomb, was and has been thereafter a day of silence. In accordance with that, I will not publish a prayer tomorrow. May God speak hope to you as you wait for the resurrection.


 If you missed the previous One Verb Prayers find Monday’s is here. Tuesday’s is here. Wednesday’s is here. And Thursday’s is here.

Also read or listen to Mixing Our Tears With Jesus’ Blood: A Good Friday Poem.

6 thoughts on “One Verb Prayers in Response to Jesus’ Journey to the Cross: Free”

  1. Georgie Ann Kettig

    the real prison is the “spiritual prison of darkness”,… the darkness of understanding and motive that resulted from “the Fall”,… God was not “the author of this confusion”, but rather, sent His Light through His own Son to undo these knots of bondage,… and to set “free”, those who would receive this powerful gift of deliverance,…

  2. Eugene,
    Thank you. These prayers and reflections have been so powerful. May God bless you abundantly.
    TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday & Thank God I’m Forgiven!

    1. Thank you, Liz. It’s been a fun and spiritually challenging project. I hope Easter is a renewal of your freedom in Christ. I love your Thank God I’m Forgiven.

  3. Terry Hagen

    Deep thoughts for 5:00 am, but thank you for your one word prayer that you have awakended me with this morning. Good Friday and today’s vigil. The Apostles of the time must have felt that it was a false hope, but we know that our hope is in Resurrection Sunday. Still, we live with moments of doubt and yes, I am called to repent daily of my sinfulness.

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