Open Your Bible
Luke 23:13-25, Isaiah 53:10-11
Text: Luke 23:13-25, Isaiah 53:10-11
So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
– Matthew 27:17, NIV
Sunday mornings are the living worst at my house. There is no other day of the week that breeds more fighting, resentment, and tears for us. And I don’t mean the children. I am convinced my husband is a tyrant, rushing us all out of the house. I paused my writing just now to ask him to describe me on Sunday mornings. His whiskers bristled and he smiled, “Recalcitrant.” Then I had to get a dictionary, and I found this: “a person with an obstinately uncooperative attitude.” Fine, then, that’s me. We disagree about how to get our family of sixteen (might be just 6) out the door.
The thing is, Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28). It’s His rightful place. Caleb and I are both hugely inconvenienced that we are not lords of the Sabbath. It’s so much easier to make the wrong choices than actually submit my time and my life to Christ. I just like to choose me instead. But who in her right mind would choose someone—anyone—over Jesus?
When Pilate proposes to release Jesus, the people cry out, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas!” Who is dirty Barabbas, and why is he even in this narrative?
Ok, so this blows my mind. First, his full name was “Jesus Barabbas.” Pilate is essentially asking the crowd, “Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, the Son of God?” There is an obvious parallel in the names.
But even more interestingly, the name “Barabbas” in Hebrew is “bar -abba”, or “son of the father.” So the full name of the murderer would have been “Jesus son of the father” (Matthew 27:17 NIV). When juxtaposed with the name of Christ “Jesus Son of the Father”, we can see that Barabbas’ appearance in this story is no accident.
The criminal’s name is an exact mirror of Christ’s name. The people get to make a choice between two “Jesus son of the fathers”—they could chose an innocent man accused of crimes, or a criminal to be released as an innocent man.
It was a clear-cut choice: choose the false man or the true man. Choose the innocent man or the murderer. But the crowd that day chose the wrong Jesus. They chose to call evil good and good evil. They chose Barabbas. It was the ultimate inversion of justice.
Why on earth did they choose Barabbas? It was tradition to let one prisoner go in honor of Passover, and I reckon it felt pretty generous and righteous to set that prisoner free. And in this case, it seems so forgiving and merciful to let this obvious sinner go. Wildly, this was actually the more comfortable choice. Nevermind that they would all need to hide their wives and kids—they wouldn’t have to change their worldview.
Choosing Barabbas didn’t force the crowd to face their own sin. They could go on living their comfortable lives if they got rid of Jesus. Admitting that Christ is the true Son of God changes everything. It changes how we spend every moment of every day. It feels so much easier to just pat myself on the back and choose Barabbas—”look, I set the prisoner free!”
I’ve got to stop choosing Barabbas! I don’t want to live the false life; I want to stand in the truth! I don’t need to be lord of the sabbath; I acknowledge that Christ is Lord. I choose Him instead of me.
Where in your life do you say, “Give me Barabbas?” Where do we resent Christ’s rightful intrusion into the comfortable areas of our lives?