Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
Oftentimes, we lose the spirit of God in our efforts to follow God. I think if the Pharisees had stepped back and looked at their behavior, they would have realized how ridiculous it seems to refuse to enter the Roman palace when calling upon the governor to kill a man. Yet how many times do our actions belie our stated intentions?
They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
How often do we try to make God into our image? Bad things happen when we do.
It was the religious elite that was the driving force behind Jesus’ trial. They were the ones who could not accept Jesus as he was, who refused to hear the Gospel message. Why? Because it didn’t conform to what they were looking for in the Messiah. They had read the prophecies, and had deduced that the coming King would be a political one. One that delivered the Jews from Roman rule, one that brought glory and honor and power to the nation of Israel.
The kingdom Jesus came speaking about was not an earthly one, there was no glamour or prestige incorporated in serving this kingdom. Jesus didn’t speak of politics, or hand out gold stars to those who broke their backs trying to keep the law. Instead, he forgave adulterers. His disciples ignored laws on hand washing. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, with no respect for propriety. He did not come to enforce the social mores of the day, but instead set forth a whole new series of ideals. For the Pharisees, who had spent their entire lives adhering to the version of righteousness taught to them, this was a hard pill to swallow. And to be perfectly honest, as a rule follower myself, I can understand the sentiment. I don’t think that the Pharisees were evil. They had spent their entire lives trying to live up to an impossible standard, to fulfill a law designed to be impossible to adhere to. And now, to be told that their set of values should be turned on its head. Mercy over justice. Love over the letter of the law. To a person raised in the midst of hard truth and hard consequences, this must have seemed preposterous.
It was much easier to call for the release of Barabbas, a person fighting the same battle you are rooting for. Barabbas had taken part in an uprising, he was trying to overthrow the Roman government. He was trying to fulfill the role of the Messiah the Jews were looking for. An earthly king, not a king of heaven.
What do you expect from God? A comfortable life? Healthy children? A job that brings you fulfillment? These are all good things. Godly things even. Yet none of these are promised to us in scripture. I find myself happy to be a Christ follower as long as my life is unfolding according to my plans. But when these plans veer off course, I’m angry. Resentful. In those moments, I wonder if I as well am calling for Barabbas over Jesus- my plans and dreams over the plan God has for my life…