Matthew 27:21-23 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
Barabbas was a notorious criminal. Jesus was perfectly righteous. Yet, in spite of the protests of the governor and the absence of charges, the Jews cried our for His death. “Let Him be crucified!” They chose a wicked man over a righteous Lamb. We all know how deceptive abusers can be. Sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths – how they can charm! And we know that this is one of the reasons pastors and whole churches are taken in by these wicked ones. Naivete. Ignorance of abuse and its tactics. All of us were there at one time ourselves.
But there is another reason some pastors and elders and church members side with the wicked against his victim. Here it is — it is because they are wicked themselves. Just like that crowd of Jews calling for the notorious criminal Barrabas to be released and the perfect Lamb of God to be crucified, so it is today. The victim is crucified, the abuser is released. Why? Because evil loves darkness and hates the light.
What is this telling us then about the real state of so many churches and professing Christians today?
They rise and needs will have, my dear Lord made away; a murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay…
I say, what does this tell us about the hearts of so many church members today? That they will slay the innocent and choose the wicked? Naivete only goes so far as an excuse. No, I say that this is very often no less than the Barabbas dynamic. Wicked people choosing a wicked man and crucifying the innocent.
“Paranoia! The thing is presposterous! Surely the affairs of the church are not as bad as that!” But I say that indeed they are. I maintain that in far more cases than most people want to imagine, evil shepherds stand in pulpits, their disciples sit in the pews, and the few righteous ones suffer for lack of instruction in God’s Word. And the evidence of it all is that over and over and over again pastors and church members are joining the Jews in their cry – “Barabbas! Give us Barrabas!”It happened in Jeremiah’s day. It happened in Paul’s day. And it is happening in our day.
Jeremiah 2:8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.
In such times evil is called good and good is called evil and the righteous suffer. Martin Luther knew it. Listen to this quote my friend found:
The greatest and foremost of all troubles is this—if only I could write it in flames on your heart—that the clergy, above all, bring the Good News in its fullness. The earth is full to overflowing with all manner of filth and teaching; the people are loaded down with so many laws, so many opinions of people, of so many superstitions, that one cannot regard them as teaching at all so that the Word of Truth is hardly audible, and in many places is not the Word of Truth at all. And that which can be born is being brought forth by human wisdom and not by God’s Word. As the Word, so the birth and as the birth, so the people. We concern ourselves with wondering how it is that so much discord exists among the people of Christ: disagreement, envy, pride, disobedience, excess, gluttony, and their love grows cold, their faith weakens and their hope is exhausted. You can give up wondering now! It is not a mystery, but it is fault—the fault of the prelates and clerics. Moreover, one can wonder how it is that they are so blind, so forgetful of their duty, that these people, who are supposed to help with the birth of the Word of Truth, are occupied with other things—with the cares of the present age—and entirely neglect the other. For the majority of clergy teach fables and popular stories. And we wonder why we get such a people from
this kind of preaching!
Where is there today a clergyman who would not be of the opinion that it would be a greater sin if he failed to flagellate himself, or didn’t pray enough, or made a mistake in the Mass, rather than that he preached too much of the Word of Truth or didn’t explain it correctly! These men are mistaken, no matter how good and otherwise pious they may be. They think that it is impossible to be mistaken in the preaching of the Word of Truth and in that they cannot sin, while it is indeed in that alone that priests sin as priests. In the other things he errs as a human; but in the suppressing or falsifying of the Word he sins against his calling and as a clergyman, and that is more terrible than to sin as a mere mortal. How painful that is! The hard and insensitive priests these days go around in their haughtiness. Not only are they silent, but also the stuff that they blow out of their cheeks onto the people they call teaching and preaching. They don’t feel themselves accountable and are not moved by fear as to whether or not what they preach is the Word of Truth, ordained by God, or not. They are in the service of themselves only: priests and clerics. Indeed, for everything else one doesn’t need the clergy.
One can be so chaste, so kind, so learned, have such success and reputation in retiring from the Church; he may have built houses, expanded his influence, done wonders, raised the dead and driven out demons, but in this alone he is pastor and priest: that he has been a messenger of God among the heavenly hosts, that is, a messenger of God’s who preached it to the people and with that served his holy calling.
These are the kind who choose Barabbas over Christ.