Choosing Barabbas


But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.
—Luke 23:18-19 ESV

Give Us Barabbas by Charles HornThose in the crowd knew the reputation of the man called Barabbas—as well as the reputation of the innocent man who stood in contrast to him on Pilate’s dais. They knew that Barabbas had victimized others through robbery, murder, and general thuggery. The other man, however, had taught them, healed them, given them hope, and relentlessly pointed them to God.

Today, we look back on the trial of Jesus and ask the question, How could they choose Barabbas?

Good Friday is probably the closest thing we Christians have to a day of reckoning. We consider the cross and think about our own failings, meditating on the acts of selfishness that led us to pound the nails into the Lord of Life’s hands. Good Friday is good for the soul.

Sunday comes and we bask in the joy of an empty tomb, of death smashed, of the Enemy destroyed. The stone that lay across the heart of each of us has been rolled away. Life has overcome.

Then comes the day after, the Monday that follows—and we revert to choosing Barabbas.

We choose Barabbas when we ignore the cries of the poor, choosing instead the siren song of the plasma TV and home theater system. We choose Barabbas when we gossip about celebrities and envy their Hollywood lifestyles. We choose Barabbas when we let the words of God gather dust in favor of the latest chart-topping bestseller. We choose Barabbas with the hurtful and vulgar words we elect to speak to those around us. We choose Barabbas when we view others as an inconvenience. We choose Barabbas when we think, I am the master of my own kingdom.

You and I chose Barabbas two thousand years ago, but we don’t have to choose him today. This side of history, this side of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is a more excellent choice. No more do we have to choose Barabbas.

Come to the foot of the cross and die. Take up your cross daily and live. Choose Jesus.

{Full-size image: “Give Us Barabbas” by Charles Horne, 1909.}

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