WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 06, 2023
TOPIC: CHOOSE JESUS CHRIST, NOT BARABBAS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy” (Matthew 27:17-18 New King James Version).
Life is about making choices. We make decisions about which of the options before us to choose. Every day and many times each day we make choices. Every decision we make has consequences but some have greater consequences than others. Some choices we make could have an long-lasting impact on our lives. Therefore, it is very important to make the right decisions and the right choices. But nobody gets it right all the time.
Looking for a way to release Jesus Christ having found Him without fault, Pontius Pilate decided to take advantage of the custom of releasing a prisoner to the Jews at the Passover. He must have been convinced that this idea would work because he was going to present to them two opposing options, believing that the people would make the choice that would lead to the release of Jesus.
Matthew 27:17-18 says, “Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy” (New King James Version).
After this announcement, verse 19 says while he was sitting on the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (New King James Version). In other words, she warned her husband not to be part of the conspiracy to kill an innocent man, Jesus Christ.
But the crowd present was going to frustrate Pilate’s plan to release Jesus with their answer to his question. The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. So when Pilate put the question to the crowd again who he should release to them between Barabbas and Jesus, the crowd shouted “Barabbas!”
If Pilate had expected this answer, he wouldn’t have asked them the question. Perhaps shocked by their answer, he asked what he should do with Jesus who was called Christ and they said he should be crucified. “Then the governor said, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ (Matthew 27:23 New King James Version).
What good qualities did Barabbas have that Jesus didn’t possess that made the chief priests and elders prefer him over Jesus? In what ways was Barabbas better than Jesus? Who was Barabbas whom the people chose and rejected Jesus? Matthew 27:16 says Barabbas was a notorious prisoner. The Contemporary English Version calls him “a well-known terrorist”! (Matthew 27:16). John 18:40 describes Barabbas as a robber. Also, Mark 15:7 says, “And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion” (New King James Version).
Which people in their right senses would prefer a notorious robber or robber to a peaceful man, a man who went about doing good, a man who raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, and healed the sick? Which people would make that kind of choice? But the crowd, influenced by the chief priests and elders, made that choice.
As Mark 15:7 says, Barabbas was a rebel and together with other members of his gang had committed murder in the rebellion yet, the people chose him and rejected Jesus. But the crowd had earlier accused Jesus of causing riots. “Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, ‘I find nothing wrong with this man!’ Then they became insistent. ‘But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!’” (Luke 23:4-5 New Living Translation).
Although the accusation was not true, it suggests that they didn’t want riots. But how could they have turned around to ask for the release of a convicted rebel – “Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising”? (Mark 15:7b New Living Translation). This shows that they were hypocrites and Jesus wasn’t guilty of what they accused him of. It shows that they supported the revolutionary activities of Barabbas. His rebellion must have made him popular with them.
Matthew 27:24-26 says, “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!’ Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (New International Version).
Take note of something that the people said in that passage: “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” They made a wrong choice and still put on themselves and their children what amounted to a curse. They preferred a violent man to the Prince of Peace and said the blood of this innocent man should be on them and their children. What wickedness!
No wonder Jesus wept earlier over Jerusalem. “But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation’” (Luke 19:41-44 New Living Translation).
The crowd rejected Jesus Christ that day and chose Barabbas. They rejected their opportunity for salvation and brought on themselves the consequences of their wrong choice. Choose Jesus Christ; don’t choose Barabbas. Barabbas represents the devil; it represents the world; it represents death.
Moses told the Israelites: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15 New King James Version). Which one will you choose or have you chosen? Moses continued, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (verse 19 New King James Version).
Choose Jesus, not Barabbas. Choose to serve Jesus, not the devil. You cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve God and mammon. You must choose one (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Joshua told the Israelites: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15 New King James Version). They were to love the LORD, obey His voice, and cling to Him.
Choose whom you will serve. The Prophet Elijah told the Israelites, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21 New King James Version). But the people didn’t answer him a word. Will you choose Jesus or Barabbas? Barabbas represents the world, a life of sin.
1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (New King James Version).
Have you chosen Jesus Christ or Barabbas? Some modern Translations even refer to him as Jesus Barabbas! I don’t know if this is correct. But suppose it is. Choose Jesus Christ, not Jesus Barabbas. There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Choosing Jesus means choosing life; choosing the devil means choosing death. Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). In Him there is eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 New King James Version).
Choose Jesus Christ. Follow Him. Serve Him.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I have chosen Jesus and there is no turning back. I shall choose Jesus every time and not the devil or the world. Holy Spirit, guide me to make the right choices always. Let me not make choices that will lead me to death or destruction. Help me to make choices that will please God. Father, I pray that those who have chosen the devil and the world will repent and surrender their lives to Jesus today. Have mercy and deliver everyone from the consequences of their wrong choices in the past.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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