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(BARABBAS) SCRIPTURE- St. LUKE 23:18                                                   APRIL, 1995



A great man, once spoke these words, "December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy." This was a speech, referring to one of the most darkest times in our history, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. And, indeed, this was a tragic time. Hundreds, or thousands of men and women, perished while sleeping, or going about their carefree duties, when a sneak attack, turned a peaceful, sunny, beautiful Sunday morning, into a chaotic, hell on earth, for those that were there, and for this entire nation. It was a day, that this nation, will never forget. Several years later, the Japanese, paid the price for their act of violence. There were other days, that we have in our history books, and in our memories, that were bad, but nothing like Pearl.

However, there was another day, that we celebrate, where only one person died, yet it outweighs, what happened at Pearl Harbor, by multitudes. What happened on that day, set the stage for all of creation, past, present and future, to either prosper, or perish. But, it is not so much what happened on a hill called Golgotha, that I want to focus on. It is an event, that preceded that, which I want to focus on today. Go back with me in time, to a scene, that rivals anything that man could ever do, to show his wickedness, and contempt for good. The scene, is the court of Pontius Pilate. Pilate is facing a crowd of people that have assembled themselves, to witness the trial of a man named, Jesus. Jesus is standing between Pilate and the crowd. There is nothing regal about Him. He looks like the average Jew, of that day. As we ponder, 'what is the history behind this man, and why is He on trial?', we notice that the crowd is being stirred up, by a group of men, dressed in what appears to be royal apparel. We find out, that these men, are the religious leaders of their day. They seem to be trying to get the crowd to tell Pilate something. But, what?

Another interesting thing is, there is another man, standing between Pilate and the crowd, which puts him, next to Jesus. This man, unlike Jesus, looks dirty, unshaven, and is rather unpleasant to look at. He doesn't look like the type of fellow, you would want to run into on a dark, deserted road. Both Jesus, and this man, are in chains, which gives the idea, that they are prisoners. We find out something else. This is not actually a trial, but a voting party, to see which of the two men, Pilate will set free (Matt. 27:15). So, we need to see, which of these men, deserve to be set free, and what will be done to the remaining individual.

As we look at what the people say about Jesus, we find out that He had a mysterious birth. His parents, raised Him up, along with His other siblings, to recognize that there was a God, and that without Him, man could do nothing. Jesus, unlike most children, spent most of His time, not playing with the other children, but in the temple, listening to the religious leaders, talking about the law, and commandments of God. Then, one day, He comes back, as a grown man, and things really begin to get exciting. First, He gets baptized by a man named John the Baptist, and a dove, lands on Him. At the same time, a voice, comes out of Heaven, and says, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." Then next thing we know, is that He starts saying, and doing things, that have not been done before. He challenges the religious leaders, on their actions regarding how they are trying to keep the people in bondage, by putting more laws and restrictions on them, that God had not ordained.

But, that is only the beginning. He begins to heal the sick, without using medicine. He opened blind eyes. He cured the lame. The deaf, received their hearing. He fed over ten thousand people, with only five loaves of bread, and two fishes, and still had leftovers. One day, He caused some fishermen, who had not had a bite all day, to gather so many fish, that their boats were sinking, from the weight. But, the most spectacular thing He did, was to raise a man from the dead, that had been dead, four days. He also raised two other dead people. In short, this man, went about doing all things, that were good. He even preached good. So much so, that the people followed Him, more than the religious leaders.

All we know about the other man, whose name is Barabbas, is that he is a thief, and a murderer. This man, has a history of violence. He is one that can't be trusted. And here is Pilate, asking which one of the two, shall he release to the crowd. Jesus, that does nothing but good, or Barabbas, that does nothing but evil. As we listen, the crowd responds in a loud voice, "GIVE US, BARABBAS!!!" "What then, is to happen to Jesus?" Pilate asks. The crowd responds again, "CRUCIFY HIM!!!" What kind of madness is this???!!! The crowd, being urged on by the religious leaders, would rather have a murderer, released to them, rather than a Man, that God says is His Son, and that has done more good in a little over three years, than all of these leaders, who supposedly are God's ministers, have done in their entire lives, combined.

That day, and its scenario, is played over, time and time again, by most of us, every day. How, you might ask. The scenario we just looked at, shows a man in authority, giving the people, he ruled over, the choice to receive unto themselves, good, or evil. Jesus represents, GOOD, LIFE, BLESSING, PROSPERITY, RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOLINESS, HEALING, AND EVERYTHING THAT GOD HAS TO OFFER. Barabbas, represents death, cursing, poverty, sin, sickness, bondage, and all things that are the worst, that man can find. And so it is, that today, God, sets before each of us, the good, and the evil, and asks us to choose which one we want. However, He urges us to choose the good. Yet, despite this urging, we choose the evil. And, many times, we do it, not at the urging of others, but at the urging of, our own religious leaders, who have something against the good.

That's right. Today, and down through history, man pursues a course of self destruction, that is due, in large part, to the doctrines, and traditions, that man has allowed to creep in to their churches. And, when God, sends someone to us, to tell us the truth about these devilish practices, the preachers in these churches, urge their followers, to reject God's message, and to run the messenger, out of town, if necessary. Abortion, versus life. Too many Christians are choosing abortion. They are saying, give us Barabbas. Homosexuality, versus heterosexuality. Too many Christians, are seeing nothing wrong with it. They are saying, give us Barabbas. No prayer in schools, versus prayer in the schools. They say, no prayer. They are saying, give us Barabbas. Morality in the public schools, versus no morality. They want, no morality. They are saying, give us Barabbas. Laws for our nation, based on God, or laws, based on man. They want laws based on man's ideas. They are saying, give us Barabbas. Yes, that's right. Time and time again, when given the choice between good and evil, life and death, blessing and cursing, Jesus and Barabbas, we inevitably choose Barabbas. Why? Because of the pleasure we derive from it. That's right. There is pleasure in sin. But, the wages of sin, is death. Are you ready for that? Man's nature, seeks pleasure for himself. He seeks something he can identify with. God says, "In man (woman), dwelleth no good thing." "The heart of a man (woman) is deceitfully wicked." Barabbas, represents us, in our sinful state. Jesus, represents, what we can become, if we will only make a choice to reject Barabbas, and choose Him.

Today, right now, I am saying, you are standing in that crowd, like nearly two thousand years ago. God, is putting two choices in front of you. One is Jesus, and all He represents. The other, is Barabbas, and all he represents. He is not going to twist your arm. He will honor your decision. It is my hope, that you say, "give me Jesus." If you say, "I am not ready yet", what you are really saying is, "give me Barabbas." Think about it.