“Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?’ And they cried out again, ‘Crucify him.’ And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him.’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” (Mk 15: 6-15)
Individually, perhaps most in this crowd would have chosen Jesus over Barabbas. But as a crowd, they are “stirred up” by their chief priests, on the basis of a common, Judean patriotism in the face of the hated, Roman authorities, to choose Barabbas “instead.” Bar-abbas, whose name means “son of the father,” is chosen “instead” of the only-begotten Son of the Father, Jesus. Because Barabbas was a true rebel against the Romans, arrested “in the insurrection,” like a sort of Robin Hood or thorn-in-the-side of the Romans. And as such, he appealed to patriotic Jewish mentality, while Jesus was not interested in any such “insurrection,” as His present vulnerability before the Roman authorities demonstrated.
Jesus Christ walked and acted amongst us, speaking to each of our human, universal, – not specifically Jewish, Greek, Roman, Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, American, etc. – thirsts for the Kingdom of God; He spoke to our common thirst for the peace and well-being in the higher authority and grace of God. So even if certain chief-priests “stir up” our crowd-mentality known as “patriotism,” in their respective flocks, throughout history, let me not be tempted to choose any “Barabbas” as my focus today. He may be the “son” of my “father-land,” but still of a different “father” from the One of my Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom we ascribe glory forever. Amen!