(Mat 27:15-17) (15) “Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. (16) And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. (17) Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?”
When we think about the Crucifixion story and the events that led up to it, our attention is naturally focused on the experiences that Jesus went through to die for us. We see that He was betrayed by one of His own disciples (Mt. 26:46-47); He was denied by another disciple (Mt. 26:74-75); He was mocked by unbelievers (Mt. 27:29), who also beat Him (Mt. 27:26) and crucified Him with criminals (Mt. 27:38). Indeed, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (Jn. 1:11).
But, rather than to look down at the disciple who betrayed Him; the disciple that denied even knowing Him; or the criminals that were crucified alongside Him, we should view each of these groups of individuals from a different perspective. By examining these people from a first-person perspective, we can see the common characteristic of humanity to oppose God. More importantly, we can see our own frailty in that our wicked heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), so that we cannot know it.
As we see ourselves in each of these groups, the reality of their actions is made known. It would be very pious to say that we would have acted differently if we had been in their positions. But, as we have just noted, we are easily deceived by our own wicked heart. Since our own heart well betray us, it is unreasonable to say that it would not have betrayed Jesus Christ. Indeed, our very salvation is necessitated by the fact that our heart is turned from God and is “only evil continuously” (Gen. 6:5).
Knowing then that our heart is un-knowably depraved, I pose the question: Given the choice between Jesus or Barabbas, Who would you have condemned to death?
The unregenerate heart in a person, being turned from God, will only choose to do unrighteousness. Even the seemingly ‘good’ that we do naturally is tainted by selfish motives. All of our actions have a self-serving agenda, meeting either an immediate or remote need of ourselves or our familiars. Given the choice between righteousness (Jesus) and unrighteousness (Barabbas), the natural man will only choose unrighteousness.
But, praise God, Who has chosen us (Jn. 15:16), even dying for us when we were His open enemies (Rom. 5:10). Thank God for the regenerating work of His Spirit, giving us a New Heart (Ezek. 11:19-20), and making it possible for us to even desire to please Him (Phil. 2:13).
Yes, salvation is a Sovereign choice, which means that our choice of Jesus is also a Sovereign choice – we now choose Jesus because He has chosen to reveal Himself to us a Savior, Lord, King and God.