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 said things they didn’t like.
This past Easter, I participated in a tradition at my university called Easter Pageant (which you can watch here if you’d like). In Easter pageant, we put on a live re-enactment of the events of the week leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. It’s a powerful and special experience to be a part of- and as a participant it affects your emotions more than you expect it to. This year I was cast at one of Peter’s Accusers- and that’s something I could write a whole other post on itself.
I was also a “crowd member”, meaning I had to angrily yell at “Jesus” on the cross, and had to beg Pilate to release the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus during the trial scene. 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.
You see, just minutes before, we were the crowd who watched in awe as Jesus performed miracles all over the land. Minutes before, we excitedly welcomed Jesus into town as he rode in on a donkey and we waved palm leaves shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Within a matter of a few scenes, we went from rejoicing in the presence of Jesus to shouting hateful, disgusting things at his face and demanding he be put to death for claiming to be the son of God.
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. The same people who welcomed Jesus in with open arms on Palm Sunday were cursing and persecuting him a week later.
During these moments in rehearsal, as well as our devotional time, many epiphanies were had as God spoke to us through the scenes we re-enact. As I flipped the switch from praise to persecution during the pageant, I realized I “choose Barabbas,” in a sense, as I walk through life. And many other Christians do as well. We find it so easy to live our lives in ways that aren’t pleasing to the Lord because of temptations in society and the words of those in positions of power. We disobey God’s commandments because the world is more accepting of sin and pleasure than of obedience to God’s word. When things are good and other people around us (like when we are in the presence of faithful believers at church) are rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness, it is so much easier for us to be a part of the crowd who shouts Hosanna; But when things get difficult and other people express how much they disagree with Christ, or say that our God is not as good as we think he is, things get messy.
The enemy tries to convince us that we don’t need to follow all of God’s commandments because they are difficult and we should use our free will to the lives we want to live- lives that are pleasing to the flesh but harmful to the soul- and we sometimes make the wrong, but popular choice. We choose Barabbas- the liar, the thief and murderous criminal. We choose sin. We choose the world, and leave Jesus’ legacy to be mocked rather than defending him with our lifestyle.
Friends: i know it’s extremely difficult 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,