You may or not be familiar with the story biblical account of the holiday known as Easter, but that is the inspiration behind this post. At the time I began writing this, it was Holy Week, and I’ve delayed posting it due to getting way too caught up in my studies to make time to edit my blog, but I still think it is of value (to someone) to share.
While Jesus of Nazareth was on trial by Pontius Pilate, the Jews & Pharisees did not believe Jesus was the Christ and wanted him to be executed for claiming to be. Pilate was willing to let Jesus go because he didn’t believe he was guilty of any crime, but the crowd protested. Following custom, Pilate gave in and allowed the crowd to select one criminal to be set free: Jesus of Nazareth, or thief & murderer, Barabbas. The crowd was so convinced Jesus was falsely claiming to be the Christ, that they pressed on with the idea of his crucifixion. Who should be set free? “Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!” They yelled. Pilate let the criminal Barabbas go & allowed Jesus to be sentenced to crucifixion.
You know what I find interesting about this? The crowd was okay justifying a man’s evil, hateful & illegal actions and letting him go free of consequences so that they could punish a peaceful man who says things they didn’t like. If you really think about this, we do this kind of thing all the time. When taking a look at mainstream media & celebrity culture, we often excuse or continue supporting people who have been convicted of horrendous felonies and even come up with hashtags like “#freeSoAndSo,” but as soon as someone in the limelight says one thing we disagree with, be it politically, religiously or whatnot, we ostracize them and say that “celebrities should stay out of this,” “they’re only here to entertain us,” and decide we are no longer going to see any film they’re in or listen to any song they release.
Now, I’m not saying that if you do this you’re horrible- you’re not. We all do it. And it’s fine to not want to associate with something that contradicts your values, but that choice should have continuity across issues & not hold double standards. If we excuse theft, violence & disregard of the law, but ostracize free speech or opinions (and I don’t mean in the hateful or threatening sense) that differ from ours, we are making ourselves out to be hypocritical. We are, in a sense, choosing Barabbas.
You may remember by my recent post chronicling my Holy Week/Easter weekend. In that post, I briefly mentioned that I participated in my University’s Easter Pageant. I was a crowd member, meaning I had to angrily yell at “Jesus” on the cross, and had to beg Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. This experience was very emotional & really brought things into perspective. I felt bad that I was saying the things I was, even though it was just acting, because in real life I know Jesus is the Christ. During these moments in rehearsal, as well as our devotional time, the idea that we “choose” Barabbas daily was brought up and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I can’t help but think that some of those people in the crowd, denying Jesus, were once followers of Jesus who succumbed to the pressures of those around them to condemn him. I’ve realized that that’s exactly what I do all the time, whenever I decide not to share my faith, or do something I know is against God’s will for me. If it’s available and the world accepts it, but it’s wrong, it’s much easier to accept it yourself. If it’s not widely accepting but others and it is right, it’s much more difficult to believe and accept it while standing alone.
Friends: it’s not easy to admit, but we choose Barabbas everyday. I don’t like that thought, but it’s so true. It’s important that we recognize this so we can find the strength to resist. Would you rather choose a murderous thief or an honorable & peaceful man? I, for one, would much rather choose Jesus. I still slip up & make bad decisions, but with God at my side, I know I can stand up and be strong.
Let’s think things through and evaluate our choices. Let’s pay attention to how we live our lives and seek out the goodness. Let’s stop choosing Barabbas and start choosing Jesus.
Until next time,