The Review and Herald


January 23, 1900

Christ or Barabbas


God sent his Son into the world to save men, although, because of their sins, they did not deserve such a revelation of love. How did the world treat the One who was “altogether lovely,” and “the chiefest among ten thousand”? We read of him at his trial, “The men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.” Prophecy, inspired by Christ himself, had declared the treatment he would receive at the hands of men. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 1

On one occasion Paul was smitten on the mouth. He was indignant at the insult, and said, to the cruel actor, “Sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” Paul had not then become as meek and lowly as his Master. In spite of the cruel treatment Christ received, he declared, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world;” not to crush, but to heal; not to judge, but to save and uplift, to ennoble and bless. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 2

At the Passover feast, it was the custom to release a prisoner, whom the people might choose. “They had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 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? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 3

Pilate was not left to grope his way in darkness. Not only was he convinced by the testimony and evidence of the witnesses that the charges brought against Christ were false, but an angel of God communicated light to his wife; and, before the terrible deed was done, she gave this light to Pilate. “When he was set down in the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with this just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” But Pilate was too weak to obey the light. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 4

The Prince of Life, bearing the seal of heaven, was placed before the people, with Barabbas by his side. The contrast between light and darkness, sin and righteousness, truth and falsehood, could be seen by all. Pilate then asked the people, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” With satanic madness the people answered, “Not this man, but Barabbas.” They refused to receive the Lord of glory, choosing Barabbas, a robber and murderer, in his stead. By this they showed that they preferred the society of a murderer to that of the One who was sinless, full of goodness, mercy, and truth. Satan was working through the religious element, and bigotry and prejudice prevailed. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 5

“Pilate said unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” And as if inspired with satanic frenzy, the people cried, “Let him be crucified.” Their voices sounded like the bellowing of wild beasts. “Why, what evil hath he done?” Pilate asked. “But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.” RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 6

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Did this farce make Pilate guiltless? O Pilate, if you could have washed from your convicted conscience the terrible guilt that will ever oppress your soul because of this cowardly deed, your after-history would not have been laid in such dark colors. When you knew that it was for envy that Jesus was delivered, why did you refuse to listen to the warning from the Lord? Do you think that the act of washing your hands will cleanse you from the sin of condemning a man when your own reason tells you that he was delivered into your power because of envy? You declared him innocent, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person,” and yet you delivered him up to his murderers. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 7

Writing of this, John says, “Pilate saith to them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 8

“I have power.” By saying this, Pilate showed that he made himself responsible for the condemnation of Christ, for the cruel scourging, and for the insults offered him before any wrong was proved against him. Pilate had been chosen and appointed to administer justice, but he dared not do it. Had he exercised the power that he claimed, and that his position gave him, had he protected Christ, he would not have been accountable for his death. Christ would have been crucified, but Pilate would not have been held guilty. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 9

Listen to the response made when Pilate said to the people, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it:” “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” He had pronounced him innocent, but still he delivered him up to the most ignominious and cruel death that a man can suffer. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 10

The four evangelists,—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,—all bear record that Jew and Gentile, priest and people, rulers, kings, and governors, all classes and tongues, were represented in rejecting Christ, a man who was innocent, and against whom no proof could be found. He came to this world to live God's law in human nature. He came to testify to the world's unfallen, to seraphim and cherubim, to angels and to men, that Satan's rebellion against God and his law was without foundation or excuse, that in his law God had revealed his character. This character Christ represented by living that law, thus vindicating it, and showing its immutability. This Satan could not tolerate. He could not bear to lose all that he had attempted in heaven, and in attempting which he had lost heaven. He and his evil angels united in a desperate companionship with disloyal and evil men. They resolved to use the whole power of their corrupt energies in putting out of the world the light of truth. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 11

The unfallen worlds and the heavenly universe looked with amazement at the hatred felt and acted toward the only begotten Son of God. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But he who was sent into the world by the Father on an embassage of mercy, bringing a message of love, was not received. Notwithstanding the priceless gift he brought, he was scorned as a deceiver, hunted down as a malefactor, and betrayed and crucified as the worst of criminals. Thus human nature will do when controlled by satanic agencies. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 12

Here we have a picture held up before us. The Light of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, without one charge proved against him, without being convicted of a single crime, was given up by the ruler of the people to a shameful death. But who was responsible? In the day of God, before the assembled universe, who will suffer punishment for this act?—Those who claimed to be the most pious people on the earth. Who crucified Christ?—“Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” The people would not then have permitted harm to come to Jesus; therefore the priests must do their work in secrecy. RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 13

The religious leaders, the guides and instructors of the people, the men who ought to have pointed the people to Jesus, saying, as did John, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” followed the lead of the enemy of all good. They persuaded the poor ignorant people, who knew not the Scriptures, which testify of Christ, to reject the Son of God, and led them to choose a robber and murderer. “The chief priests and elders persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.” Why did they do this?—Because of envy and jealousy. Prejudice is ever blind, unreasonable, vindictive, and cruel. Under its maddening power people are rendered insane. “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” RH January 23, 1900, Art. A, par. 14