I have been thinking a lot about current events today. In this political environment, Christians seem to be acting very un-Christlike for the sake of freedom, power, fear, etc.
We get so focused on the “personal Lord and Savior” message (that is there and important) that we forget about the political nature of what was going on during the time of Jesus, the political nature of His crucifixion, and the political nature of His kingdom.
Barabbas in Aramaic means, “Son of the Father”. Some original manuscripts call Barabbas “Jesus Barabbas”. He was in prison for violence and murder in the name of “freedom” (Luke 23:19).
There were crazy movements that wanted to revolt against Rome. Many in the name of God. Remember in Luke 13 when after they were talking about the Galileans whose blood was mixed with the sacrifices Jesus said,
…unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
This wasn’t just a call to repentance from any sin to turn to Jesus. The Galileans were up for a revolt and believed that the Messiah would come to them first and then lead them to revolt. This is a call to repent from violent ways and attempts to overthrow Rome.
You then see Jesus in Luke 19, as He is being ushered in with Palms (the symbol of the violent zealots), weep.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Foretelling the destruction of the Temple that he also talked about in chapter 17 and tells His followers not to stay and fight in chapters 20-21 but run for the hills) — Luke 19:41-44
At the trial before the crucifixion of Jesus, you have Jesus the son of the heavenly Father who is the prince of peace, and Barabbas (which means “son of the father”) who was a violent “patriot” murderer in the name of “freedom”. The crowd cried for Barabbas to be freed and Jesus crucified, all led by religious leaders who then stated, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).
Think about this… the crowd of God’s people (the Jewish people) called for a patriot rebel murder to be freed while crucifying the Prince of Peace. The religious leaders were behind it all while claiming that the worldly king was their true king over the actual messianic king that they were waiting for.
Robert Jeffress of Dallas First Baptist Church said this:
When I’m looking for a leader who’s going to sit across the negotiating table from a nuclear Iran, or who’s going to be intent on destroying ISIS, I couldn’t care less about a leader’s temperament or his tone or his vocabulary. Frankly, I want the meanest, toughest son of a gun I can find. And I think that’s the feeling of a lot of evangelicals. They don’t want Casper Milquetoast as the leader of the free world.”
Not much has changed. The people in Jesus’s time were so blinded by the ways of violence and power that they missed their promised true king.
The questions are:
- Will we wake up and allow ourselves to repent or perish by violent and power-hungry ways?
- Will we allow ourselves to depart from these ways, even if they are sometimes under the label and mantra of Christianity, but look more like the high priests releasing Barabbas and hailing Caesar as king?