Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Not the only time that a robber has been preferred to Christ. It is a choice that is made by multitudes in Christian England, as it was by that infuriated rabble eighteen hundred years ago. Why should I mince matters? You are preferring something before Christ. Its name may not be Barabbas. The ban of society may not rest upon it. And yet for all that, it is a robber.
1. It robs you; it robs you of peace, happiness, Christ. Anything you choose before Him robs you of Him. He will take no second place in your heart.
2. It robs Christ of you. You belong to Him; He made you; He bought you with His blood. Many prefer —
I. THEIR SINS TO CHRIST. Jesus stands before you. Deity come down to humanity, humanity exalted into Deity. He says, "Come unto Me." But men refuse. Failing there, He stands, shall I say higher, or lower still? On Calvary; and thence His dying voice again says — "Come." But — will you believe it? — this call of a dying Redeemer dies away unheeded. "Not this Man, but" — but — oh! who or what is this rival, who blinds your eyes to the grace of that heavenly form? Sin is its name, that hideous, deformed, repulsive thing.
1. Sin is a robber. It robs you of —
(1) Your peace of mind. The sinner is not a happy man. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."(2) Heaven. Remember, while you are imbibing its stolen draughts, and rolling its forbidden fruit as a sweet morsel under your tongue, that is not the end of it. You would not knowingly harbour a thief beneath your roof, and yet you scruple not to make a home for sin in your heart — that heart for which Jesus is asking and waiting in vain.
2. Sin, like Barabbas, is also a leader in sedition. What is it that disturbs the peace of nations, that snaps the bonds of fraternity, and breaks up the foundations of a people's prosperity, but sin?
3. Like Barabbas, sin is a murderer — it was a murderer from the beginning; it murders souls with an eternal dying.
II. EASE AND SELF-INDULGENCE. Here we come from the outer circle of the world into the inner circle of the Church. How many pay Christ the compliment of coming to church once a Sunday, and here their service begins and ends! There are men who name that name which is the synonym for all that is disinterested and unselfish, who think more of their champagne than they think of the Church, and who give more for their champagne than they give to their Saviour. If I were an author, ambitious of signalizing myself by writing the shortest volume ever known, I would come to some of the members of our genteel suburban churches, and ask their permission to write an account of what they are doing for Christ and for the world. Brief indeed would be the history! A solitary cipher would describe all that many are doing for the Lord that bought them, and for a perishing world! There is a passage that must be a precious solace to some so-called Christians — "We which have believed do enter into rest." But remember, that is the labourer's rest after toil, not the idler's rest from toil. But I have another passage to set over against this — "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion!" Yes, woe, for this ease is a Barabbas, a robber.
1. It robs your fellow-mere There are multitudes of ignorant, hungry, afflicted, dying, to whom a Christian visit is like an angel's presence. Your selfishness robs them of that.
2. It robs Christ of the reward of His sufferings, of jewels to His crown. Who knows what little one might have been led to Jesus had you taken your place in the Sabbath-school?
3. It robs yourselves —
(1) Of present happiness. It is the working Christian who is the happy Christian. While "he waters others, he is watered also himself."(2) Of the Divine approbation; it will deprive you of that encomium at the day of reckoning which it were well worth spending a thousand lives to hear — "Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." You are loving your ease better than Christ. What if Christ had loved His ease better than you?
III. GAIN. All some men are living for is pounds, shillings, and pence, as though no Christ had ever lived and died. There was no room for Christ in the inn; there is no room for Him in the shop and in the counting-house, I fear. Now, this Barabbas is a robber. Ah! you think that you are growing rich; but instead of this, you are being daily robbed, and growing unutterably poor. You would soon be alert if you thought a thief was at your till. This Barabbas of mammon is robbing you —
1. Of your precious probation time here on earth.
2. Of your souls. Wealth is "the pearl of great price," that lies in the field of business, and men will sell all that they have to enable them to buy that field. They will sell their veracity, their honour, their principles, their manliness, and of necessity, in the end lose their souls. But "what shall it profit a man," &c.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.