Give Us Barabbas
When Pontius Pilate (fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26– 36) was confronted with the problem of Jesus (approx. 33 AD) he was in the midst of political turmoil. History does not credit Pilate as a man having good character, and because of that, he was in conflict both with the Jews over whom he was governor, and also with Rome, to whom he answered politically.
The thing about Pilate with which we are most familiar is that, finding no fault with Jesus (no legal reason to conduct further proceedings) he sought to placate the Jewish leaders who we stirring the political pot, causing Pilate trouble in Jerusalem, and in Rome. According the Gospels, Pilate decided to give the complainers a choice: the customary release of one prisoner of their choosing during the Passover festival. They could choose Barabbas, or Jesus. (Matthew 27: 11-26)
It is more than merely interesting that Barabbas’ first name was also Jesus. Some ancient Syriac copies of Matthew, and a few other ancient sources, call the freed prisoner "Jesus bar Abbas" (http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/barabbas.html). Here we have a case of alternatives. A choice between truth and not truth- between Jesus and not Jesus- a choice involving integrity and political expediency.
We know a little about Pontius Pilate from source outside of scripture, and his brief appearance is full of tragedy. He ignored his conscience, he disregarded the good advice of his wife, he chose political expediency over public rectitude, and he failed to recognize the truth even when Truth was standing right in front of him. (gotquestions.org) Pilate’s life was defined by compromise, and in the end (sources vary), he either committed suicide or was killed by Nero.
Times may change but human nature does not. Today, there are loud voices demanding compromise. People, well-meaning perhaps, who cry out that if we do not choose this one over that one (presidential candidates), we are doomed. The reality is that if we choose “not truth” over Truth, we are doomed anyway. When integrity is all you have, you should never gamble what you cannot afford to lose.
A problem that is caused by compromise cannot be solved by more compromise. Always seek righteousness. Always choose truth.
May 21, 2016