“Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
Jesus and Barabbas before Pilate

Jesus and Barabbas before Pilate

And the people chose Barabbas.
I’ve always wondered why.
Why would they choose a murderer over a savior?
What would push them into making the choice of one who steals life over one who gives life?
One who steals life?
One who gives life?
We could talk about mob mentality; we could point out the way they lived under the sway of priestly authority.
We can never know for sure.
One thing we can know for sure, though:
They made the same choice that Jesus would have made, if the choice had been up to Him.
This is His choice

This is His choice

Jesus would have chosen to give Barabbas his freedom and his life, knowing that it would cost Him His.
It is what He chose for us.
It is hard to understand both choices: the choice of the crowd and the choice of Jesus.
Yet to understand both choices is to understand the gospel.
Frederick Buechner put it well when he said that to grasp both of these decisions is to “grasp what the New Testament says about Christ being our Savior and about people badly needing to be saved.”
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Art credits: Jesus and Barabbas by Bernhard Rode; Let Him Be Crucified by James Tissot; Jesus Scourged by Phillip Medhurst; photo of Christ with the cross by Asta Rastauskiene