ReadingsProverbs 22:22-23:12 and John 18:15-40

Proverbs 22:22-23:  “Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the LORD will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.”

John 18:38-40:  After [Pilate] had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in [Jesus]. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover.  So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”  They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”  Now Barabbas was a robber.


“Heeding the Scriptures”

What if Barabbas had learned the Scriptures?  Let’s speculate on what his life would have been like and cast a different light on his life.  Perhaps his parents would have brought him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Perhaps his parents would have brought him to the rabbi to learn the Torah, and thereby learn what the Commandments have to say.  Or perhaps little Barabbas, and in Hebrew his name being ‘son of the father’, would have grown up to be a respectable person.

Instead, we get this one glimpse from the evangelist who tells us that Barabbas had been locked up in jail for being a robber.  He got caught and arrested for trying to take someone’s money by threatening his life.  That’s certainly not a good way to get your name out into the public and especially in the Bible!  

Sad as it is, we hear of Barnabbas as he and Jesus were put on the ‘auction block’ and the highest bidder would claim his release.  “Crucify Him!” will be the cries we hear regarding the disposition of Jesus, who emptied Himself, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, or as the New King James Version translates this:  “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” but made himself nothing… (Philippians 2:6).

We sit in our little judge’s seat and say that this is a mistrial!  There was no reason to lock Jesus up according to Roman law.  Barabbas did.  He robbed someone.  What kind of craziness is going on here?  It’s no different than in our world today with all the craziness we hear in the news.  It angers us when we see the courts release a man whose children died inside a hot car, accusing him of leaving them there.  In review of the surveillance video, the children were seen entering the car by themselves.  Why wasn’t that father charged for not keeping better watch of his children?  Our minds are going in all crazy directions.

But we’re not the judge.  Society judges.  Peter, put to trial by fire, would tell us.  He was warming himself on that chilly morning, waiting to see what would happen to Jesus in His trial.  Inside, while Pilate was asking ‘What is truth?’ Peter was outside denying the truth that he knew Jesus.  And we would assume that Peter had sat at the Rabbi’s feet to receive instruction in the Torah and learn the Commandments!

Our Daily Lectionary takes us again to reread and rehearse the Passion of our Lord, even as we have already celebrated Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  But what does the Holy Spirit enable us to know; rather Whom does the Holy Spirit enable us to know?  We know this Jesus, crucified for us, humbling Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

He also convicts us of our sins, our sins of robbery!  While we may not take our neighbor’s house or his money or goods, or get them by any false means or dealing, we do rob God of the honor due His name.  We, like Peter, hear the rooster crow—that call to repentance.  The eyes of the crowd gathered before him have made that declaration of ‘Guilty’.  The same judgment is upon us like Peter, and all we can do is weep.  But Peter wept bitterly, as the evangelist Luke reports in this parallel account.  That’s a sign of contrition—repentance plus faith—that heeding of the Scriptures.   Scripture would also teach that Jesus forgives those sins! 

Proverbs 23:12:  “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”


Let us pray:  O Holy Spirit, guide us by Your light into the Scriptures that we may gain instruction and learn words of knowledge.  Call us to repentance and faith, so when this crazy world tempts us with judging the affairs of men, we may first judge our own hearts and confess our sins and weep bitterly.  O Holy Comforter, redeem us when the injustice of the world afflicts us; for You reign with God the Father and the Son, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Our Father…

The Lord bless us, defend us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.