“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!” (Matthew 27:21-22)
Barabbas was in prison for murder and insurrection. His name means “Son of the Father.” Sound familiar? He chose to fight Rome with violence, while the other Father’s Son fought by sacrificing himself.
The crowd showed a distinct preference for the Barabbas way over the Jesus way. Again, sound familiar?
Today many Americans who identify as Christ followers are more aligned with Barabbas than with Jesus. They praise January 6th insurrectionists, arm themselves, join militias, or call for outright civil war. Maybe they see the violent way as a more immediate fix to our sociopolitical problems. Waiting for justice at the very end of history can be exhausting. It requires faith. If they can speed up the process by taking matters into our own hands with threats and violence, then…
They reject Jesus’ way for Barabbas. They “trust in chariots and horses,” and fail to “remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Jesus clearly articulated his way: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36) But when Simon Peter, who hadn’t entirely embraced Jesus’ way, did fight in the garden, cutting off Malchus’ ear, Jesus slapped it back on saying, “Put it away!”
There was another disciple named Simon. Before meeting Jesus, this Simon had been somewhat of a colleague of Barabbas. No telling if Simon, the formerly Zealot, knew Barabbas personally. Maybe they fought side by side in dark alleys in Jerusalem. Even if they were friends in their past, I can’t imagine him cheering with the crowd for Barabbas’ release, especially with the alternative of putting Jesus to death instead.
Barabbas represents the way of war and violent insurrection. Jesus, the Son of His Father, represents the way of peace, innocence, and sacrifice. When Pilate asks the crowd for their preference, this is the point at issue. “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” (John 18:40)
Those who claim to be “Christian,” and who call for America’s improvement by any means necessary, including violence, vote for Barabbas over Christ.
Who are you voting for?