Continuing The Bible Timeline, tomorrow at Explore, Annette leads us to ask questions about Jesus’ death sentence in Matthew 27:15-26. As the story of Jesus’ crucifixion winds towards its great climax, pulling more and more characters and motives into its wake, there now emerges into the light Barabbas, someone who summed up, in the most unlikely way, one of its central themes. It was part of the strange fate of the moment, that there should be, in prison in Jerusalem, a notorious brigand leader who (like several other rebel leaders of the time) bore the common name ‘Jesus’. ‘Jesus Barabbas’, he was called, and Pilate asked the crowd to choose, for their festival celebration, one of these ‘Jesuses’ to be released. Barabbas represents all of us. When Jesus dies, the brigand goes free, the sinners go free, we all go free. That, after all, is what a Passover story ought to be about.
One point of this passage is that all are guilty: the chief priests and elder who have handed Jesus over; Pilate the weak bully; and the crowds themselves. And part of the reason for stressing universal guilt is that, with the death of Jesus redemption is offered to all. What happened, close up and in sharp focus, to Barabbas is now open to all. When Jesus dies as King of the Jews, he draws on to himself the guilt and death of Israel, and thence also of the world.
It’s a Passover story. Come and join us! 11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.