Earlier this week, Rhett was talking about what is ultimate in your life and how we sometimes worship false Gods. I was thinking about those posts last night when I read from The Message last night to my boys.
Part of the passage I read last night was Matthew 27:15-26. It says in part:
At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. With the crowd before him, Pilate said, “Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?” He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.
The governor asked, “Which of the two do you want me to pardon?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
“Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?”
They all shouted, “Nail him to a cross!”
He objected, “But for what crime?”
But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”
Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion.
The crowd had a choice of two Jesuses. They could choose Jesus Barabbas who was a criminal, a murderer, but one who is believed to be part of an attempt to violently overthrow the Roman government in Israel. This Jesus was one who would do things the crowd’s way. This Jesus should live.
They chose him over Jesus “the so-called Christ.” That Jesus didn’t do things right. He loved sinners. He said “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” He was not part of getting rid of the physical oppression that the crowd faced. He spoke of some far off spiritual freedom. He never talked about setting up a new Davidic kingdom in Israel. He talked about the Kingdom of God and opening it up to all people. This Jesus just wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t play by the rules. He needed to die.
Barabbas literally means “son of the father.” He name was “Jesus, son of the father.” The crowd was forced to make a choice, which son (and which father) did they want to choose. The chose the son of this world and the father of lies.
Doesn’t it point out how huge of a misconception we have about Jesus, when Barabbas is considered the safe choice over Christ? The religious crowd felt better about having a criminal in their midst than Jesus. They would rather have the man who murdered someone during a rebellion, than the man who preached to the crowds and healed the masses. I think back to Aslan, “He’s not a tame lion you know.” The crowd knew better than us – that Jesus is not a tame man you know.
How many times in my life when faced with a choice do I scream for Jesus Barabbas? The one that is easy to control. The Jesus I can box in to fit my stereotypes and my beliefs. The one that wants to take out my enemies, instead of pray for them.
We always say that if we lived during Jesus’ day we wouldn’t be part of the fickle crowd that yells “Hosanna” to Him one minute and screams “crucify Him” the next. But, as for me, I do it. Probably everyday. I see a choice between following “the so-called Christ” and the “son of the father.” Too often I choose Barabbas. I choose the easy route. I choose the safe Jesus.
Everyday I want to choose the unsafe Jesus. I want to choose the One that the religious crowd rejected. I want to be challenged by the Man who is more dangerous to my comfort and my plans than a murdering rebel. He came so that I can have “life and have it abundantly” but only because He pushes me past where it’s easy. Abundant life is not comfortable life. That’s the different between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus Christ.