People are searching for Jesus. Most don’t know it. Others are asking, “Which Jesus should I choose?” Many haven’t come to realize there is a choice.
Only Matthew addresses it like this, but his words sent me to prayer and thinking about the implications,
“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?'”
The first alternative presented was Jesus Barabbas, a murderer charged with insurrection, revolt, rebellion, and mutiny. The second, more logical choice, was Jesus the Messiah: the Anointed One, The Savior and prophesied Deliverer of Israel. The wise and obvious choice stood before Pilate and the crowd.
Such choice might seem wise and obvious to some but not to all.
Which Jesus to choose became polluted by a self-interest vocal minority — the chief priests and elders!
“But the chief priests and the elders
persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas
and to have Jesus executed.”
How can a few zealous power-hungry voices create such influence? Their twisted motivations, not-so-hidden agendas, and power-swaggering movements failed to blind Pilate of their true nature. Yet even he was rendered powerless to stop their influence or curb their plot.
Pilate knew which Jesus to choose. Although convinced of Jesus’ innocence, he compromised his personal beliefs to sway with the populace.
“But the whole crowd shouted,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us!”
Release Jesus Barabbas?
As shocking as it was then, similar voices echo throughout our nation and many others. Though Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world stands before us with arms outstretched, the masses shout, “No! We don’t want the Jesus of truth and righteousness. We don’t want the Jesus that brings life. Give us another Jesus!”
When we ask for another Jesus, another Jesus we get. If we refuse the One and Only God, another god we will find.
I know for a fact that “the whole crowd” wasn’t shouting for His crucifixion.
“From then on,
Pilate tried to set Jesus free . . .”
Mary, the mother of Jesus, and several other women silently witnessed the events of that day. I assure you that they, along with Jesus disciples, were silenced by the masses — their voices muted by the powerful.
When a murdered was released, murder ensued. With the release of the rebellious, rebellion increased. The impact of that day’s decision sifted down through multiple generations.
“All the people answered,
‘His blood is on us and on our children!'”
In the heat of that critical moment, they unwittingly cursed themselves and their offspring.
This simple little passage sent me to my knees, because the ground-shaking implications continue with destructive force over the nations.
“‘. . . Which one do you want me to release to you:
Jesus Barabbas, or
Jesus who is called the Messiah?'”
There is only One Jesus who delivers all He promises, providing the way out of darkest crisis, the truth in face of the strongest delusion, and life when the clouds of death hang ominous.
Many have lowered Jesus to a prophet, a good teacher, or a little “g” god to which we can all somehow attain. They have attempted to strip Him of His deity, power, and authority. Yes, their voices form the minority. Yet, at times again the few mute the truth and deny the fullness of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer of all mankind.
God challenges me today, “Release Jesus! Release Jesus the Messiah around you! Don’t be silent or still!”
His challenge isn’t exclusive to me, however. He urges us all, young and old, male and female, known and unknown, to let others see, the real Jesus among us. In our words, in our conduct, in our attitudes, and in our prayers, release Jesus the Messiah.
“Conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the Gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and
see you or remain absent,
I will hear of you that you are
standing firm in one spirit,
and with one mind striving together
for the faith of the Gospel.”
Standing firm in these days creates an obvious separation from the majority. Many public forums pressed the mute button on the Christian voice decades ago. Yet, our voices can not only be heard, but resonate clearly among the crowds of confusion with eternal impact.
But how? With so many people staggering in uncertainty, how can we release Jesus today, setting free in our culture all He represents.
God’s eternal strategies remain relevant for all generations at all times.
The first, and foremost, is to personally choose Jesus as your Messiah, Savior and Redeemer. Welcome Him to come into your life, surrendering yourself completely to Him. We can only give to the world what we have already received. The only way to offer Jesus, and the hope only He brings, to others is to experience Him personally.
Then by consistently taking time in the Bible, we discover more about who He is and the awesome plan God has for each one of us. The Bible offers more than concrete wisdom for daily living, God’s Word is powerful, effective and life giving.
Prayer, the third strategy, remains the chief work of every Christian. It prepares the ground for faith to increase, opens previously locked doors, and releases opportunity for voice and impact. Prayer influences heaven and impacts earth. Never underestimate the power and authority we hold on our knees in prayer.
“The effective prayer of a righteous man
can accomplish much.”
With these steps activated, audacious faith permeates our words, actions and conduct refusing to accept any other Jesus presented to us.
A Turning Tide
Even though we have heard the same chant from groups and influencers throughout the ages, the tide is turning. The once silent voice of Christians rises again, calling wrong wrong and right right.
“From the days of John the Baptist until the present,
the kingdom from heaven has been forcefully advancing,
and violent people have been attacking it.”
As Christ followers, we belong to a mighty army taking back territory once surrendered by the release of the “Barabbas”es — the counterfeits. “No more!” the faith-filled shout. “Just give me Jesus — the true Jesus!”
Joshua, whose name can also accurately be translated Jesus, said,
How many times has this not-so-subtle question been asked, “Which Jesus do you want released to you?”
In this hour, the pendulum shifts. Boldness fills God’s people again as many raise their voices. “Give us Jesus, the Messiah! Give us Jesus, the One in Whom is life and hope. We will have no other!”
From nations long closed to the Gospel to those cold from revivals all-but-forgotten, the sound rises like a thunderous wave, “Give us Jesus, the Messiah!”