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

Jesus the Christ has dwelt among the citizens for 3 years. He was a light in the community. He taught them, healed them, cured them, cast out demons and resurrected them. He was a servant to them, meeting their needs, as well as instructing them as to righteousness. Jesus now stands before them, and places His life in their hands. Pilate calls to the crowd to make a decision between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus the Christ.

What a simple choice!

Jesus, the righteous member of the community or Jesus Barabbas? Barabbas was a well known criminal. He spent his days stealing from those in the community, causing mental distress and fear among those who worked hard, were over taxed and struggling financially. Barabbas has proven he can’t be trusted, and is by law deserving to loose his life because he was tried and rightfully convicted.

Surely, the people wouldn’t vote against their own self interest! There are still hungry people, homeless people, sick people, disenfranchised and marginalized people. Evil is still ramped in the community and righteousness has yet to prevail. The last thing the people need released into their communities is someone who steals from them, having no respect for their property or person.

The people, in doubt, turn to the right place.

They look to their religious leaders to direct them to do what God would have them to do. But these religious leaders were more political than spiritual. They had closer ties to the government and their prosperous temple system than they had with the divine Himself.

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the
crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus
Matthew 27:20

How could they?
Easy; they were making money!
Their god was Mammon and not Yahweh.

With Jesus gaining influence and coming into prominence, the Chief Priests and Elders stood to loose much. They would rather release Jesus Barabbas and see the peoples home violated, remain in sickness and disease, live unholy lives than to release Jesus the Christ and see them made whole. Sadly, the high priest and elders had more in common with Jesus Barabbas than they did with Jesus the Christ. They were “white collar criminals” and he was a “blue collar criminal.” They were stealing from the people, using the system like the local tax collectors to do so. They were collecting more than what was due, assessing penalties, denying offerings and having them purchase acceptable sacrifices from the online & temple book store.

They executed their plan. They used their power and influence to mislead the people of God! They began to speak aloud to the community. The spread rumors. Gave half truths. Manipulated facts and statistics. Convinced the community that He was not needed. Told the community that He was a danger to them, and worse, to the establishment; the church. They argued against their Savior to savor the savings through the arrangement they had with the people and the politicians.

“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.
Matthew 27:21

And yep! The high priest and elders were able to get the people to vote against their own interests. Though Jesus gave no campaign speech, the people had His words and His deeds to judge Him by, yet they released a divisive force to dwell among them.

As I watch and listen, sadly I see the more of the same. There are some that still use the pulpit to nurture and prosper their personal interest, even if it is at the demise of those they lead. Honestly, I am not sure what Bible these leaders are reading, but I am pretty sure where they get their revelations from. They are hearing straight from god, the one they actually trust in, not the one they pretend to partner with. They walk in agreement with earthly covenants and are content with building storehouses, and not building people.

It’s time for change!




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Johnny Ogletree, III M. Div.

Johnny Ogletree, III M. Div.

Husband of 1, Father of 5, Servant of 1 God!