Today’s reading: Matthew 27:1-26
Who is the man that is spared in place of Jesus?
Little is known about him for certain. Some authorities say he is a thief, others a murderer. Some suggest that he was a political revolutionary that killed a Roman soldier in a riot. Sometimes he is called “Jesus Barabbas”, sometimes just “Barabbas”.
But one thing we know for certain, the name “Barabbas” is “Bar” and “Abba”, and means, “Son of the Father.” So when Jesus is condemned to death we see the true son of the Father being exchanged for a false one. Therefore, one must be vigilant to avoid making the same mistake in our own lives. This is a surprisingly easy thing to do. People on both sides of the aisle have made politicians into messiahs. How many people ignore their families in preference for their favorite sports team or TV show?
Barabbas is a false god. Whatever was his crime he symbolizes choosing earthly rather than heavenly means to solve are problems. Whether Barabbas was a thief, murderer or revolutionary we see that all earthly solutions necessarily involve violence. In choosing the temporal over the divine we necessarily do violence to the Lord. The crowd does not just choose Barabbas but it explicitly rejects Jesus. In addition, their motivation to choose Barabbas is to spite the Romans. The Jews are choosing an objectively bad man for an objectively bad reason. This is an important lesson for us. We must always try to discern and follow God’s will. A choice for earthly / temporal solutions based on bad motivations necessarily entails a violent rejection of divine grace. To the best we can we must choose the objectively good based on the good motivation of the love of God.
Tomorrow: Matthew 27:27-50