March 2, 2009

Whom Will Ye That I Release?


The Jews stood around watching as Jesus was brought forward on the stone balcony that overlooked the court of the mansion of the governor of Jerusalem. Pilate looked over the crowd with disdain in his eyes. He did not like the looks of these so called Jewish elite that had gathered there early this morning. As he scanned the faces of the small group he raised his voice, declaring: "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ?" (see Matthew 27:17)

In the earliest of the Greek texts of the Gospel of Matthew, Barabbas is named Jesus Barabbas (it appears that later scribes deleted his given name of Jesus and only kept his surname so as to differentiate him from Jesus of Nazareth). Thus Pilate was really asking the people 'Who should I release? Jesus son of the father (Barabbas in Hebrew) or Jesus the Son of God, the Christ?' From what we can tell, Jesus Barabbas (or Barabbas as we now know him as) was a revolutionary of sort. It appears that he sought to break the Roman yoke of bondage from off the Jews by force. He in a sense was a redeemer of sort, in that he sought to free the people from bondage. Yet, this freedom would not last, this freedom was only a worldly freedom, a freedom from law and from man. A freedom that could not release man from death and hell.

Each of us is faced with this question on a daily basis. Whom will we choose? Will we choose worldly freedom; so called freedom from law and consequences? Or will we choose freedom from sin and death. Many in the world today proclaim that they teach freedom. They say that if we will but follow them we will be free. They teach that, for example, that relying upon outdated traditions of marriage only bind us to a form historical slavery. They claim we must release ourselves from these shackles that hold us to the past. They teach that by allowing all to marry whom they please, we are proclaiming freedom and liberty for all man. Yet, one must ask: what do they teach of freedom after this life? What is it that they teach of freedom from death? They are silent.

It is only Jesus Christ who came to proclaim true freedom. A freedom from oppression, death, sin, sorrow and pain. No other teacher has ever claimed to have this power. It is through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we may learn of true freedom. A freedom that will last beyond this life into the next.

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