I watched a message yesterday by Amir Tsarfati about Jesus and the Passover. It was so good y’all! I’m including the link for it because I hope you’ll go watch it too.
One of the things Amir mentioned has been tumbling around in my head since yesterday. It came from this bit of scripture about Jesus’ trial before he was crucified:
Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “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 27:15-22
I’m not sure I ever really thought a whole lot about it before that Barabbas’ name was actually Jesus Barabbas. (Jesus was a fairly common Hebrew name.) It’s why when Pilate asked the people who to release, he had to specify between which Jesus…Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ. (Depending on what version of scripture you’re reading, it may say Jesus Barabbas or just Barabbas. Some leave the Jesus off, I guess to be less confusing.)
But what Amir said, that I don’t know that I’ve ever realized before, is the meaning of Barabbas is “son of the father.” In Hebrew, “bar” means “son” and “abba” means “father.” So Jesus Barabbas was Jesus, son of the father. And this gave me pause. Son of the father?
I looked up a little about Barabbas because honestly I couldn’t remember what his crimes were, and what I found was that he was said to be a murder. A taker of life.
The people chose one who takes life over one who gives it.
And why? Because it made them feel better. Because that other Jesus was too controversial. He was too uncomfortable. He did things weird and different from what they’d become accustomed to. He said things that didn’t line up with their manmade assumptions about God. He didn’t follow their rules. He couldn’t be coerced or forced into their mold of godliness.
So they picked Jesus, son of the father over Jesus, Son of God the Father because it felt better. And yet even though they chose wrong and Jesus Barabbas ran free, Jesus the Christ went to the cross anyway.
Do you see it? The Father of Lies gave the people a counterfeit son hoping that when it came time to decide, they’d pick the one that makes them feel better. And they did. And Jesus went to the cross anyway. He didn’t have to. But he did.
Lord, how many times in a day do I pick the thing that makes me feel better? The thing that doesn’t cause me to have to change much. The thing that seems right in my own eyes (Prov. 21:2). I shudder to think.
But the breathtaking part is that even when I choose wrong, the cross was still for me. The sacrifice Jesus made there is still for me. Even knowing we would choose wrong so many times, Jesus went to the cross anyway. And even when we royally mess up, even when we think that we’ve totally blown it, the cross is still for us.
The cross is for all who choose it.
But it doesn’t stop there. Jesus overcame death on the cross and rose from the grave. He did all that so that we didn’t have to. He offers life to all who will receive it, and none of us deserve it.
We all choose wrong sometimes. Some of us, most of the time, Lord help me. We pick the counterfeit because it feels good or fits into our box better. But thanks be to God for his grace, because in all our wrong choosing, Jesus still paid it all for us.
The Giver of Life still chose us.
Be sure to go and watch Amir’s message!