March 18, 2014

Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the Messiah?

Matthew 27:15-28

“Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
—Matthew 27:17


We face difficult choices every day. And often, instead of standing up for the truth, we compromise our convictions or let someone else decide. But the results can be disastrous.

Pilate tried to negotiate a way to remain popular while avoiding a decision for the truth. He would let the crowd decide who would be crucified: Jesus the Messiah or Jesus Barabbas. What a clever move on Pilate’s part. Certainly the crowd would not want a murderer set free!

Knowing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate wanted to release him. But without the backbone to stand for truth, Pilate looked for an easy way out. He thought he had the perfect plan to spare him from making this difficult decision. But God closed the door. Nothing can stop the plans of God: not inept leaders or rebellious mobs or cleverly conceived strategies. In the midst of political injustice, mob hysteria, and mischievous deceit, God finds a way to establish his perfect will.

The crowd had to choose, and they chose wrongly. We too have to make our choice. When we choose for Jesus the Messiah, we recognize the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins and rose again to save us from eternal death. When we choose for Jesus the Savior, we honor the one who has chosen us and who made the hard decision to die so that we might live.

Lord, we are thankful that your ways are higher than our ways. You overcame the schemes of human beings to provide for our salvation. Thank you! Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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