At Easter, I don’t like to dwell on the crucifixion. I prefer to camp out at the empty tomb and read about the glorious death of death. The violence of Jesus being beat and tortured unto death breaks my heart to pieces. The pain and agony are too much. The betrayal, the march to the hill, the nails, the spear…all just too intense, too heart breaking, too hard. That’s it really. It is too hard to look at it all. The crowd being stirred into a frenzy…easily led astray by vicious lies and turned angry mob in minutes. They lost their minds.
Stepping back from this view it is easier to see the hand of the enemy at work. Yet, if you take a bigger-picture look, the enemy at work isn’t all you’ll see. It is here at the stage of history I felt God whisper in my ear this week…
The next day I heard a powerful message about Barabbas and my heart quickened. Once again, the whisper,
It is not the part of the story I usually focus on, but with the urging and a burning in my heart, I couldn’t help but go back to this very familiar story and look for whatever clue was hidden for me there.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, a light cracked open on a foggy memory of a message I heard one time. Not quite clear to me…but something there…something about Barabbas. What was it? Sometimes chemo brain is a kicker…when memories are just beyond reach is one of those times.
And so I began digging. First reading the passage again and not seeing anything new in this portion of the text. Then thinking about the name Barabbas. Another sliver of light…the meaning of the name…it had something to do with the name. Looking it up and the light comes on. Bar- meaning son of and Abba meaning- the Father. Barabbas means son of the father.
So now the stage becomes more than the murderer who went free before Jesus died. Much more. It becomes the Son of the Father, and the son of the father. Two sons standing side by side. Two sons, One father. Brothers really. Both loved as unbelievable and inconceivable as that sounds. One innocent. One guilty. One the personification of God. One the personification of evil. One the incarnation of holiness. One submitted to sin in all its forms. A heavenly dichotomy. An earthy choice with spiritual consequences.
Pilot puts The Choice into the hands of the mob recently stirred up by religious spirits. Those kinds of mobs are the worst. You can almost see the demons can’t you? Hovering, shouting in the ears, frothing at the mouth…tasting their victory, so close. The Choice is made. Against his own will, Pilot choses the will of the people, who are crying out “Give us Barabbas! Give us what we want!” And with that…the deed is done. The throng gives feverish, frantic shout as the exchange is made. Evil goes free. Holiness dies. The son of the father is free to continue his life and the Son of the Father ceases his. Chains fall away on one, and bonds are secured on the other.
The walking out of The Choice is all that remains. The noxious cloud follows the crowd to the hill on which God dies. Gleeful in their pursuit. The fury rolls and spills over below to the people who know only what they are told. When the earthquake happens and the sky turns to night, I see the heavenly realms, demons thinking they had won because the will of the people was absolute. The rumble shakes their resolve and silences the party with wondering. It will be three days before the reality hits that they have been duped. That death died and that life reigns forever. In that moment, destiny is changed for me and for you.
I wonder if Barabbas stayed around. I wonder if he watched or if he even cared for the man who set him free. My guess is that he was long gone. That he was not even aware of the significance of what took place or that his name was given for a specific time and place in the history of eternity. My name is Barabbas. I have been set free, by the blood of Son of the Father. The will of the people and The Choice did not set me free. The will of God and The Choice of Jesus did. My life was given to me in the Great Exchange and I will set my dwelling here. I will live in the place of remembrance of a love that rescued me, when I didn’t even know it existed. I will
“Dwell (think on it and reside in it) here.”
He that dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Ps. 91:1