Recently I heard a comparison of two men, both with the name of Jesus. On this Good Friday when we consider the crucifixion and all that it means, we may want to look at the position that Pilate found himself in as he addressed the angry crowd.
Pilate asked a question of the crowd. “Whom do you want me to release…Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, the one called the Messiah?” He wanted them to make the choice. (Matthew 27)
We know that the demands of the crowd grew stronger to release the man Jesus Barabbas. Pilate’s wife had a terrifying dream concerning Jesus, the Messiah…and warned her husband. The politically correct thing to do at the moment was for Pilate to distance himself from the situation and as he washed his hands…he told them that he was” innocent of this man’s blood”. Backing away from being a leader was the position Pilate took. The rioting world often brings leaders to their weakest point. Fear had a strangle-hold.
Yet the crowd persisted and Barabbas was released. Jesus, the Messiah, was thrown to the crowd to be humiliated, tortured and put to death on a cross…the worst of all deaths during this time. He hung there with two thieves beside Him. What had He done? He had preached the love of God; healed the sick; and drove out those who would dishonor God’s house of worship. He had stepped on the toes of the those in charge. Everyone had to make their choice. The disciples ran and hid. Earlier Peter wept that he had not had courage…and had denied his Lord.
Pilate did not want to choose. When one is in a “hot spot”, it is easier to try to fade away behind those who are vocal. The crowd knew what they wanted. It is also easier to shout with other voices rather than to allow our own voice be heard alone.
The choice had been made. The one Jesus (Barabbas) represented the sins of the world…a man convicted and jailed for his wrong doing. Jesus, the Messiah, was feared by the governing body of His era and the religious, who did not understand His message of redemption also feared him.
We, too, have a choice…to join the ways of the crowd and those of the world who do not understand what Jesus was doing when He died on the cross. The other choice is to identify ourselves and our souls with Jesus, the Messiah. Could it be a costly decision? Yes, as it was for the disciples who all died a martyrs’ death. Choosing the Cross has never been an easy path. It wasn’t for the Savior and it is not today.
Even after His death, his followers had to make decisions. Mary Magdalene could have been fearful to go to his tomb, but she went. God honored her decision by allowing her to see the angels at the empty grave. She then became the first witness who went back and told the others that He was no longer there.
In parts of the world, Good Friday is already here. Tomorrow will be our Good Friday in the USA. The only “good” thing about Good Friday is that God had a plan for redemption. Jesus, the Messiah, would not stay buried in the tomb. His suffering was in our place.
Today, we drape the crosses in black…but Easter morning is coming. Not Jesus Barabbas, but Jesus, the Messiah is the RESURRECTED Jesus .
Which Jesus do you choose?