I Shout From the Crowd
So it is Holy Week once again.
From the time I was little, I have known everything about the Easter story. I read the Bible, the children’s books, and watched all of the Veggietales episodes. I had seemingly exhausted the entire crucifixion and resurrection story.
So, NEXT! Time to move on from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to someone a bit more “intellectual.” Now I need to read Romans. All good theological minds like Romans, right?
But you see, this is not how sanctification and biblical wisdom work. It is impossible for us check off any of the 66 books as “read.”
I know this because I was taught something new. An amazing point nestled into the story that I thought I had exhausted.
This is the story of Barabbas.
We do not know much about his man, other than that he is a murdering scoundrel. He lies, he cheats, and he steals. There is nothing about this man that can be considered good; in fact, he is truly a representation of all that is evil.
But because of a Jewish tradition, the Paschal Pardon, one prisoner was to be released over Passover.
Pilate stands in front of the crowd and offers the people a choice: free Jesus or free Barabbas. Pilate is not an impartial judge, as he makes his opinion on the issue very clear. Yet the crowd yells at Pilate to release Barabbas to them, dooming Jesus to death on the cross. The NASB describes their voices as prevailing and insistent, despite Pilate’s three attempts to convince them to use reasoning and release Jesus.
I have the overwhelming tendency to look at this crowd and think to myself, “Why? How? Who would ever have the stupidity or the audacity to shout for a murderer to be released over an innocent man?”
But when I truly look at my heart in light of the text, I realize who would be that stupid.
I am the one who chooses Barabbas over God more often than I would ever like to admit. I don’t choose that man in particular, but I choose my own Barabbas every day. I choose to hold onto my grudges and my bitterness instead of forgiveness. I am the one who would rather see my selfishness pardoned than fight to put the needs of my family first. I fight and kick and scream until I have an established plan for my future that fits into my agenda. When those who represent Pilate’s perspective in my life are saying “If you could have Jesus, why on earth would you chose Barabbas?” I am the one shouting three times to give me what I want.
How incredibly sobering.
As we bring home our palm leaves from church, let us not forget that the same people who laid those branches down for the entrance of the King are the same individuals who fought for his crucifixion. The very fact that Jesus died for those who argued incessantly to nail him to a tree by his hands is a work of grace beyond what I could ever offer to any individual, let alone all of humanity.
Jesus died for our sins, and he also died for our hypocrisy. He died for the horrible mess that we are; however, this realization should not give us the “okay” to create for ourselves a place to nestle into this endearingly named “brokenness.” The knowledge of Jesus’ selflessness in dying as a Creator for his broken creation is not meant to make us feel better about our brokenness. The only proper response should be a life that strives for holiness, not because God needs our help in bringing us into the Kingdom, but because our hearts should be so overwhelmed with the love, grace, and mercy of God that we cannot bring ourselves to do anything else.