Today we are reading from Mark 15: 6-15:
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9 Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
One of the powerful ways to read scripture is to place ourselves within it. When we read the Bible or read a story, where do we find ourselves, or where would we think that we would find ourselves? Today’s passage is one that II think is a healthy exercise to think about.
We see here a crowd given a choice between which of the two prisoners who could be released. Jesus could be released, and He was the one that Pilate would have actually preferred to have been released. Pilate thought, out of fear of the crowd, would not do that. He left the choice to the people. The second person who could have been released was Barabbas. Scripture tells us that he was a murderer, but he was actually a revolutionary. He would have been one who wanted to overthrow Rome. He was an actual enemy of Rome. Jesus was not. Rome actually didn’t care about Jewish religious practice, they just wanted folks to pay their taxes. Pilate left to his own desires, would have had no desire to kill Jesus. He just wanted peace, and if that meant giving them Jesus to keep the peace? Well, he may have thought it was odd, but whatever.
So, now the people have a choice? The revolutionary or the “king of the Jews.” Which would they choose? They choose the revolutionary. They choose the path that may get them what they wanted, not the path that would cause them to change.
How about use? Who would we choose? The one who would give us what we wanted? Or the one who will call us to repent. To follow Him. To change?
What do we desire, getting what we want? Comfort? Or painful repentance, that will lead to true life? We can have fake happiness or true life. One will be easy, one will be hard.
But only one will lead to life.
The crowd choose the easy, fake life that gave them what they wanted, instead of the path of repentance, change, and true life. What about us? Who would we choose?
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