Read: Luke 23
By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.” — Oswald Chambers
Every year, on Good Friday, I hear this text from Luke 23:1-24 read. Every year, the same question plagues me.
Why in the world would the crowd allow Barabbas, a known murderer, be released in exchange for Jesus’ execution? It made no sense! They chose to have a convicted killer in their midst rather than the one they had seen perform miracles? I don’t know that I will ever understand what was going on that day.
But, then again, maybe I know exactly what was going on. Maybe I do know what it was like to stand in that crowd. Maybe I have exchanged Jesus’ life for Barabbas.
I remember when my younger sister, Kyndra, was really little, she was just beginning to understand the concept of money. She knew that if you had money you could buy things, but she didn’t quite understand that every coin and bill had a different value and that some things cost more than others.
My brother and I used this to our advantage, of course. If Kyndra had something that we wanted – a cookie, a toy, a piece of candy, – we would dip our hand into the couch cushion and pull out a penny.
We would hold the coin out to our naïve sister, “Kyndra, would you trade that piece of candy for this nice, shiny penny?” we would ask, trying to hide our smiles, “You could buy something with this!”
Kyndra would look at the coin, then turn her glance to the candy in her hand, then back to the coin. We would waggle the coin temptingly in front of her nose. Nine times out of ten the trade was made and we clearly got the better half the deal. It wasn’t until a trip to Walmart that Kyndra would realize that there wasn’t really anything you can buy for one cent.
I laugh about that now although, I can’t help but be reminded of all those times I traded the sweet things in life for a gross, couch cushion penny. I can’t help but be reminded of all the times that I traded Jesus for Barabbas.
An addiction, simple pleasures, selfish motives, our way, our plan, our idea – all of these are like Barabbas. All of them can be just like that penny. All of them lead to destruction and all of them lead us away from the life that God has in store for us. We, like the crowd, forget that the Barabbas’s of this life are murderers. They lead nowhere but death.
Too many times we are quick to trade the Jesus we have away if it means we can regain a little control of our lives. We are quick to shout, “Crucify Him!” if it means we can indulge in fleeting and empty enjoyment.
Now, when I read that passage during this time of the year, I’m no longer confused by the crowd’s decision. Because if I’m honest with myself, I’ve traded Jesus for Barabbas more than once.
God forgive us…