Saturday, March 30, 2013
I was spending time with some friends, trying to act spiritual on Good Friday, when I stumbled into seeing something that was always there. Within the passion section of Mark there is this bit about the Jews, influenced by their leaders, asking for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. I've always been sidetracked by the petty, sinful, arrogant, self-righteous, stupidity of the people in this moment, and while that's there, there is another part as well. Pilot knows Jesus is innocent and good, so he tries to give him freedom. He does this by offering the passover tradition of letting a prisoner go. Contrary to his hopes and intent, the people choose the criminal sinner instead of Jesus. The obvious point here is that that, while the people are sinful and stupid, even at this stage of the story, in precursor to the crucifixion itself, Jesus literally takes the punishment intended for a sinner and a sinner gets the freedom intended for Jesus. The big picture of God's will and the action and nature of Jesus was working itself out even here.
The beautiful and theologically relevant part of this moment is that Barabbas is a truly bad person. He isn't some generalized sinner according to some theological principle, or in comparison to the perfection and holiness of God. He is objectively bad. He is an unrepentant insurrectionist murderer with anger and malice in his heart, and he is the one who gets the freedom intended for Jesus - he is the one Jesus takes the place of. Jesus didn't come to set the arguably good people free, he came to take the place of the objectively bad.
Happy Easter, He is risen...