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So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Matthew 27:17

We face choices on a daily basis. Some seem minor and insignificant (which outfit to wear,  what to eat for supper, etc.) while others seem to have more of a lasting impact. The truth is, though, our choices — big and small — impact our lives beyond imagination. Two of my favorite authors Andy Andrews and Lysa Terkeurst discuss the importance of choices in their writing. Both deliver the message that our choices create our futures. The ability to choose and rationalize makes us unique and leads us to unique outcomes. In the story of Jesus’s death, the people are offered a choice. They didn’t stew over or debate about this choice, they just made it. It was a choice, though, that impacted the rest of humanity.

Before Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified, he offered the crowd a way out of shedding what seemed to be rather innocent blood. As was the custom at this time, he offered a pardon to a prisoner; he let the crowd choose whether they wanted Barrabus (a criminal who had been part of a rebellion against Rome) or Jesus. The crowd shouted for Barrabus. Now it’s easy to look down on that crowd, criticizing their choice that led to Jesus’s crucifixion. Why would they choose a criminal, who had actually been proven guilty of a crime, over Jesus whose only fault was being God’s son? But when we look at the heart of the question, choosing between Jesus and someone or something else, we may realize that we too are guilty. Should we go to church or sleep in because we’ve had a long weekend? Do I put the kids to bed without a Bible story tonight because they’re already up past their bedtimes? Do I skip my own quiet time because I’m exhausted? Should I go see that movie with friends even though it promotes immorality? Do I volunteer for that service project or avoid clogging up my schedule more? Like that crowd of Jews chanting Barrabus, we are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to choose Jesus. Do we allow Jesus into every part of our lives and choose to live for him in our words and actions? Before we spend too much time condemning that crowd for choosing a criminal over Jesus, we should examine our own choices? Do we, too, at times choose Barrabus?

 

Prayer:

Lord, help me to recognize when I am faced with a choice between you and the world. Show me the Barrabus in my own life, the thing or person that I am choosing over Christ. Help me each day to choose You and serve You.

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