Summary: This is our conclusion to Making a Messiah, as we look at those who proclaimed Jesus Innocent of the charges brought against him.
Jesus was guilty! That’s right on that Good Friday so many years ago Christ was declared guilty. He had fought the good fight but he had lost. In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of His followers and in the eyes of his enemies Jesus Christ the carpenter from Nazareth had been proven to be guilty.
Everything he said about being God, everything he had said about his Kingdom, everything He had said about His power. Every statement He ever uttered, every promise He ever made, everything had been shown to be a lie because Jesus was guilty, guilty of claiming that he was God when apparently he wasn’t.
If Jesus had lived it would have been different, but he died and because he died everyone knew he was guilty, as guilty as sin.
The Jewish Leaders Testified to His Guilt. It was Jesus who was marching out of step, not them. He was a liberal, trouble making activist. I mean, think about it, things had been happening the same way in Israel for thousands of years. What right did this young upstart preacher have to come in and try to change things all around?
He wasn’t a Rabbi, he wasn’t a Levite, he wasn’t a scribe or a Pharisee. He was just a carpenter, he was a newcomer to Jerusalem, he was only thirty three years old and he was wrong.
So why should they change? After all it was the Sadducees who were the lawmakers, not Jesus. He just didn’t understand how things were done. What right did he have to tell them as he did in Matthew 22:29 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” Well they had shown him, because they were right and he on the other hand was wrong.
How dare he call them vipers, how dare he call them fools, how dare he call them hypocrites. Who did he think he was anyway? And then he had the utter gall to claim to be the equal to Jehovah God. In their Eyes he was guilty as guilty as sin.
Pilate Testified to His Guilt And he was right because he was smart. Pilate knew what he was doing, he was every inch a politician. He saw trouble coming and he already had too much trouble in Jerusalem. There Jews were on the brink of revolt. Perhaps it had happened when he had put the images of Caesar on the flag standards in direct defiance of the Jewish law. Maybe he was guilty that time, or perhaps it was when he financed the municipal water supply with money he had seized from the temple treasury, he may have been guilty that time too.
I mean Pilate had enough trouble; he didn’t need all the problems that this young Nazarene carpenter represented. Pilate had the authority of the Roman Empire behind him; at the snap of his fingers he could have levelled Jerusalem. And this young peasant had the nerve to stand in front of him and say John 19:11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Oh yeah, right, well Pilate proved him wrong.
Pilate feared the trouble that the Jews could raise with his superiors but then again there were his superstitions about this one who called himself God.
What should he do, please the Jews or set this harmless preacher free? So he crucified him, but hey it worked out for the best. In Pilates eyes Jesus was guilty, as guilty as sin.
Barabbas Testified to His Guilt According to custom each year at the Passover celebration the Roman Governor would set one prisoner free. And so Pilate asked the crowd, “Should I release Jesus the Christ or Barabbas the murderer?” It would have been so easy for Pilate to have released Christ if the Crowd had of asked him to. But no, the crowd yelled, “Free Barabbas, crucify Jesus, free Barabbas, crucify Jesus.” And he so he did.
So you see Barabbas was declared innocent and Jesus was declared guilty.
But who was this Barabbas? Well his name was probably Bar Rabbis which in the Greek means Son of the Rabbi. I’m sure some people are thinking; typical preacher’s kid right? Maybe his dad was one of the leaders who called for the death of Jesus. We do know that Barabbas was one of the Zealots, those who wanted to rid Israel of Rome. And the Zealots didn’t care what it took, murder, robbery, terrorism.
Now tradition tells us that Barabbas was not this man’s first name. Remember our old buddy Peter? Sometimes in the gospels he is referred to Simon Bar Jonah, or Simon the Son of Jonah. Tradition has it that Barabbas had a very common first name, a name that he shared with many other Jews, one that he even shared with a young carpenter from Nazareth. You see tradition tells us that the Zealot’s complete name was Jesus Bar Rabbis.