Did you know that Jesus was not the only Jesus? At the time of Christ, Jesus was a very common name. In fact archaeologists have unearthed 71 tombs with that name from around the time that Jesus walked the earth. While we usually only think of one Jesus in particular when we hear the name today there were others and I would like to talk about one of them.
This is the same Barabbas that found himself standing next to Jesus of Nazareth while the people chose who would be freed and who would be crucified. While we only know him as Barabbas today, his first name was actually Jesus. Think about that. Two thousand years ago the Roman ruler of Jerusalem stood two men before a crowd of people and asked them this question. Which Jesus?
The people that were there that day had a 50/50 chance of choosing the true messiah and yet the voice of the crowd cried out for Barabbas. I think that most Christians have a mental picture of this scene in their heads where Barabbas is ugly and maybe even deformed, while Jesus is handsome and hardly bloody even though he'd been beaten severely. I think that we see this as a no brainer question. As if it had to have been obvious which Jesus they should have chosen that day. Of course if the answer was so obvious then how could they have chosen the wrong Jesus?
At the time Rome was occupying Jerusalem and they were ruling the people with an iron fist. There were small uprisings from the Jewish people that were taking place as they longed to be set free from this harsh Roman rule. The Gospel of Luke records that Barabbas was in jail for leading one of these rebellions and for killing a roman citizen. He was more than just a crazy murderer. He was a rebel leader that was trying to set his people free during a time that the Jewish people were anxiously waiting for their Messiah to come and establish His kingdom here on earth.
Now let's look at that moment when they were presented to the crowd together once more. On one side you have a man that had already led a rebellion against the cruel Roman rulers that were oppressing the people. Had even killed a Roman citizen during the uprising. On the other you had a man that had supposedly performed some miracles and preached that we should love our enemies. He even said that if someone strikes you then you should turn the other cheek to that person! For a people desperate for freedom which Jesus looked like the obvious choice? Who would help set them free?
Now two thousand years later the same question is being asked of us. Which Jesus? The world has a lot of Messiah's to offer us. Plenty of options for ways to change your life and find ultimate fulfillment. The Bible is still offering us just one. Jesus of Nazareth. So, which Jesus do you choose?
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.