Matthew 27:22
The name of Barabbas has become odious throughout Christendom, although we really know very little against him. That he was a rebel against the Roman government only means that he furthered the cause of liberty which all his people cherished in their hearts; so that his name might have been associated with the names of Tell, Wallace, and other well known patriots, if only he had been successful. That he combined brigandage with insurrection is only too characteristic of the revolt of a wild, determined, lawless man in desperate straits, although this fact spoils much of his heroism. Still we do not know enough against him to account for the detestation which his name has attached to it. That detestation does not arise from anything in his character or conduct. It simply springs from the accident that it was he whom the people had an opportunity of preferring to Jesus. Therefore it is their treatment of him that is of significant interest when we consider the place of Barabbas in the gospel story.

I. BARABBAS WAS PREFERRED TO CHRIST.

1. An indication of the people's hatred to Christ. There is no reason to think that Barabbas was a popular hero. His insurrection was covered with the ignominy of failure, and his patriotism was stained with the lawlessness of brigandage. Yet he was chosen and Christ rejected. So intense was the passion of hate in the mob under the influence of their unprincipled leaders in the Jewish hierarchy! It is strange that any could hate the gracious Christ; and yet, since he was the deadly enemy of all sin, he provoked the opposition of sinners. A person who clings to his sin will come in his heart to what is virtually a hatred of Christ.

2. A sign of the people's blindness to the merits of Christ. The wickedness of hypocritical rulers was the driving force behind the fury of the mob; with many of the unthinking multitude there was doubtless no great antipathy to our Lord until this had been roused by malignant agitators. But the people did not perceive the attractions of Christ, or they would not have preferred Barabbas. The leaders were wicked, the people were blind. It is possible to be in very close external contact with Christ, and yet not to know him.

II. BARABBAS WAS SPARED INSTEAD OF CHRIST. This was not fair or reasonable, for Barabbas was guilty and Christ was innocent. Nevertheless, the unjust thing was done. This is typical of another substitution. Sinners are spared and Christ is crucified. That too would be monstrously unjust if our Lord himself had taken no part in the transaction. We can never see the bare outline of the atonement even till we perceive Christ's own free action in the matter. Though the substitution of Jesus for Barabbas is suggestive of Christ's great sacrifice for mankind, the cases are not parallel, because our Lord gave himself up for the world's redemption. What is unjust and wrong in those who slay him does not affect the right of the Saviour to surrender himself; and it is in this voluntary giving up of himself that the atonement, as a part of the Divine economy of redemption, is just and right. In conclusion, let us remember that we may be in danger of sinning like the people who preferred Barabbas to Christ, when we are tempted to sacrifice our Lord's claims to any earthly considerations. Money, pleasure, self-will, may be our Barabbas, chosen to be saved though Christ is renounced. - W.F.A.







What shall I do then with Jesus?
Perhaps we all feel more or less a certain satisfaction that we have not, as Pilate had, to make that terrible decision which, with the limited knowledge of that day, we might have made as he did. Nevertheless, this question which Pilate asked, and which he answered so fatally, is a question which we have. every one of us, still to answer. It is far more awful for us than it was for Pilate. We have to answer it with a full knowledge of what Jesus was and is. We have to answer it, aided by the light of centuries streaming upon that Divine face. So long as Christ is popular, so long as being with Him means going on safely with a rejoicing, happy multitude, there is no doubt or difficulty as to what we will do with Christ. We will gladly follow Him. But oh! brothers, there come awful moments in every experience — the Passion Week of each life — when the Christ stands pleading before your soul. A wild, frenzied mob of passions, prejudices, indulgences, sins, raise their murderous clamour, and demand that we shall give Him up; that we shall take into our favour some other popular idol, and each of us has then to answer the question, "What shall I do then with Jesus?"

(T. T. Shore, M. A.)

This is no dried or withered question, but one that throbs with warm and quick pulses in the heart of each one. We must do something with Jesus. He is here. What shall it be?

I. You can let Him stand without a word of recognition. But surely your sense of common courtesy will not allow that.

II. You can thrust Him back from your heart, and tell Him to stand aside. But surely you will not. Even Pilate treated Him better than that.

III. You can look on Him merely as an optician to help blind eyes, or an aurist to retune deaf ears, a friend, a good friend, a helpful companion, a cheerful passenger on shipboard. Yet what good will all that do you? Surely He is something more.

IV. You can take Him into your heart. That is the best thing you can do with Him, and the only safe thing. Trust Him. Love Him. What more could He do, than He has done, for you?

(T. de Witt Talmage, D. D.)

The question will, after a while, change, and it will not be any longer, "What shall we do with Jesus?" but "What will Jesus do with us?" Ring all the bells of eternity at the burning of a world! On that day, what do you think Christ will do with us? Why, He will say, "There is that man whom I called, that woman whose soul I importuned; but they would not any of My ways. I gave them innumerable opportunities of salvation. They rejected them all. Depart. I never knew you!" Blessed be God, that day has not come. Halt, ye destinies of eternity, and give one more chance!

(T. de Witt Talmage, D. D.)

I. SOME KIND OF ANSWER MUST BE GIVEN TO THIS QUESTION.

1. It cannot be evaded. You must answer it.

2. Jesus Christ is offered to you as a means of salvation, etc., and you are free to accept or reject; but one of these two things you must do.

3. We know how Pilate answered this question.

4. This is the great question of the age.

5. It is a personal question.

II. CONSIDER SOME OF THE ANSWERS THAT have been given to this question.

1. Some answer it by placing themselves in direct opposition to Christ, they give it a bold negative, they deny His Divinity, His gospel, and His claims.

2. Others give an answer that seems more respectful: they say, "Probably His claims are well founded; but association with Him would involve separation from friends and pursuits we love — we will do without Him," etc.

3. Others give a somewhat imposing reply, but think they need not be too intimate with Him, etc.

4. Others admit His claims but delay their decision.

5. Others accept Him as their Guide and Saviour, etc.

III. THE ANSWER GOD EXPECTS US TO GIVE. Welcome Him to our hearts. Love Him supremely. Obey Him fully. Serve Him faithfully and constantly.

(S. Smith.)

remember a young man in New York city, whose father I knew. He was a great prodigal, and had broken his mother's heart, and brought her down to the grave in sorrow. Every night he was out carousing with boon companions. The father's heart was just broken too, and one night a few weeks after the mother's death the young man was just starting out; the old man said, "My son, I want one favour of you. I would like you to stay at home and spend one night with me." The young man said he did not want to stay, it was so gloomy. "But," said the father, "will you not stay and gratify your aged father? You know your conduct killed your poor mother. My boy, won't you say?" The old man pleaded with him, and just begged him to stay, but the boy said, "No, I am not going to stay at home." The old father put forth one more effort to save his prodigal boy, and he threw himself down before him in the hall. What did that boy do? He just leaped over the body, and went out to join his comrades. There is not one of you but would say, "That was an ungrateful wretch, not fit to live." Ah, sinner, what would you do with Christ in such a case? Why, many of you, I believe, if He were to throw Himself down before you and plead with you, you would step right over Him. And now, sinner, what will you do with Christ? Will you send back the insulting message that you do not want Christ to rule over. you. Oh, may God forbid it, and this very night may there be hundreds who shall receive Him.

(D. L. Moody).

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