Jesus is nervous. He is awaiting trial. The people hate him and with good reason. The whispers about him are true. He has done what they say. The man called Pilate has questioned him, he has been beaten and flogged. He aches, he is tired, he wants to go home, but he knows that death awaits him. Then something extraordinary happens.
Pilate offers the crowd a choice. A choice between him and another man. One can go free the other will die. This is an unexpected hope, a chance for death to be taken away. Then Jesus Barabbas sees the other man. The man also called Jesus, the man called the Christ. Barabbas has heard the rumours. He knows that this man is not a criminal, but a Rabbi, an unconventional one at that. Barabbas’ heart sinks. Given the choice between a criminal and a murderer surely it is obvious which the crowd will choose. Surely it is not a choice at all?
Barabbas looks into the crowd and sees their hate. Etched deep into the lines of their faces. He feels it like heat from a fire. They shout, wave fists and spit. But not at him. Not at the criminal, but at the one they call the Christ. He notices the religious leaders at the back of the crowd. Sees their smirks and smug hand rubbing. Barabbas smiles. These fools really will choose the Jesus they want. Because of Jesus Christ, Barabbas will receive unexpected freedom, a new life, a fresh start, resurrection.
Because of Jesus Christ we all do.
Matthew 27:24-26 ‘When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’ Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.’