There are many things to think about with Easter coming up. Here is something to ponder:
“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them…” (Mark 15:15)
All the gospel writers tell us of Barabbas. He was a murderous revolutionary, hardnosed and with blood on his hands. The interesting thing about him is his name. Bar-Abbas literally translates as “son of the father”. And in a most dramatic historic coincidence, according to some old and very reliable manuscripts, there is evidence that his name probably was Jesus Barabbas - Jesus, the son of the father. I don’t see how we could read and understand that sort of information without knowing that this is again God silently guiding all the events behind the scene, bringing things to light that otherwise would never be known.
This crowd is confronted with choosing between Jesus, the son of the father, who rules by force and makes his living by his wits; and Jesus, the Son of the Father, who rules by love and is ready to sacrifice Himself.
Why did they choose Barabbas? The answer seems to be that they were disappointed with Jesus. This was the very crowd that, just a few days before, had welcomed Him into Jerusalem with shouts of praise. The city was filled with people He had healed. The eyes of the blind had been opened, the deaf made to hear, and the lame to walk. He had awakened within the people the hope and desire that He was indeed the Messiah, come to deliver them from the bondage of the Roman Empire. All their ideas of Messiah centred on the thought that He would be the one who would set them free of Rome. But now, when they saw Him standing helpless before the Roman governor, and saw His apparent unwillingness or inability to make any defence against the accusations, all their loyalty to Him collapsed. In anger and disappointment, they turned and chose Jesus, the son of the father, who lived by force - Barabbas the murderer.
The reality is that we too face the same decision these Jews had to make between Barabbas and Jesus. Have you ever been disappointed in God? Have you ever expected Him to act in a certain way because of what you understood about Him and His life and His nature - but He did not do things the way you thought they should be done? There have been those times for me when I have been ‘disappointed’ in God. I have been all but convinced that He did not live up to His promise because I was sure that I knew what He was going to do. And, in that moment, I have been ‘disappointed’ – albeit a human emotion and realisation. My heart was filled with uncertainties that bordered on anger that God would act a particular way, despite the fact that God has told us all, again and again, ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We can’t figure out God even though we do try. One things is certain: He will be true to Himself…He will never lie…He will never deceive us. But we do need to acknowledge that God is far more than we can handle. He is bigger than we are. And like this crowd, when we get upset or even shake a fist at God or threaten to turn ourselves away from Him, there is always another Jesus Barabbas waiting in the wings for us to follow.
Pray with me: “Lord, I realise that life is confronting me all the time with decisions to choose Barabbas or Jesus. Forgive my weaknesses. Grant that I may choose Jesus, before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen”