The day our Lord died, there were more people who voted for Barabbas.
Pontius Pilate thought he had a No-Brainer working when he offered the scheming multitudes the life of Jesus, the Christ in exchange for the life of Jesus, called Barabbas. Barabbas, after all, murdered, stole, incited rebellion, endangered the nation and otherwise proved himself not to be a swell guy. Jesus bin-Joseph fed, healed, cleansed, raised and encouraged the nation to love its enemies, even if its enemies were Roman.
John 18:38ff shows a Roman procurator able to admit truth was not the sole possession of the Roman empire. Pilate might not have the insight necessary to argue sacred truth with Jesus, but the seasoned servant of Caesar saw the innocence in the beaten Jew in the courtyard.. Pilate met Jesus, called Christ, in the courtyard because the accusers would not come inside; it was Passover and a visit indoors to the Roman residence would render them unclean.
Religious people are funny, aren’t we? Put an innocent man on trial for a capital crime, drag someone else into the melee to pass sentence, take credit for the poor fellow’s death, but assume no responsibility and, for God’s sake (literally) risk not that one more step certain to steal away ritual purity.
Before I belabor whatever other point I wish to make, please let me clearly state this one. To Wit:
There are those times when your unacceptability to a crowd marks you as a better fellow than the one who wins the seat. Jesus, called Christ, was unacceptable to the persons who wanted blood, but not just any blood, Christ’s blood. If we do things that make us acceptable to that crowd, we demonstrate our complete revulsion to grace. Take care, religious friends, what we do to remain ritually pure and culturally acceptable.
John 11:47ff gives us a clue or two (or ten, but that would take too long) about the intimate merger between ritual purity and cultural acceptability. Remember these two lovers solemnize their vows to the accompaniment of shed blood and broken bones. Caiaphas, a practical man, offered the blood sacrifice of Jesus, called Christ, months before the particular Passover when Jesus died.
Jesus, this Caiaphas opined, would die for the nation and for all the diaspora. In this pronouncement, Caiphas places himself directly in the midst of the culture of his day, but it was the Roman Culture. The Romans said, “The welfare of the many is more important than the welfare of the few.” Jesus would die, Caiphas prophesied, for the sake of the nation. This was a thoroughly Roman pronouncement. Persons of the culture wherein Caiaphas was reared would have argued what they argue still; that anyone who takes the life of a single person also takes the life of every life that might come from that one.
Caiaphas makes a culturally acceptable prophecy. He just misses the point of what it takes to be a covenant keeper. He wears the High Priest robe covering a Roman heart.
Caiaphas knew his Adam Smith, though Adam Smith had not been born. So, Smith’s announcement, centuries later, that utility diminishes at the margin. Therefore, it is better economically to avoid the margin, stay in the middle, remain as much in ritual purity and culture acceptability as we can, even if personal integrity, like utility, diminishes at the saving margin.
See it with me, you see it now, you know it. The decision about Jesus’ life was made in a room Jesus did not enter during a meeting the Christ did not attend. Others decided, without Messiah’s consultation.
Never take a decision about some other woman’s life in a room she cannot enter during a meeting she does not attend. Integrity dies during the roll call.
Jesus, as we started out saying, lost the only election where the name was ever mentioned. We might expect this result, what with the real toughness of His campaign speeches.
John 8:44 has Jesus calling his electorate (well, some of them, the better connected ones) children of their “father, the devil.” Jesus exudes grace for all persons, but our Lord seems to have some issues with the callously religious, don’t you think? Persons who use their religion to extol themselves just do not seem high on the Messianic Praise and Worship List. In fact, in the previous verse (John 8:43) Jesus admits they cannot understand Him because they really cannot hear His words.
Sad, is it not? To have all the information from all the PCs in all the world, but miss the words of Jesus. Jesus really does want us all to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, forgive those who hate us, redeem those who use us despicably. Jesus really does want us to preach deliverance to the captive. Jesus wants us to be wise like a snake and harmless like a dove. We are to carry our enemies load the second mile, turn our other cheek, visit the widow and orphan in their affliction and love the stranger in our midst.
In truth, we can do all those things and still miss Jesus. Jesus is a Person, not a Cause, not a Politician only. Jesus is real, really, earthy, sweaty, walk a meter in your sandals kind of real. Jesus is the kind of fellow who can lose an election and pray for the people who vote for the other candidate.
If your candidate loses the upcoming election, at least, I guess, you can solace yourself with this thought If your candidate loses for a good reason, even to a bad man, your candidate is in good company.