Matthew’s Passion: The trial of the two Christs

Matthew’s Passion: The trial of the two Christs

40 blogs of Lent: 30

Matthew 27:15-23

I am visiting this passage a second time because last time the relationship I looked at was the crowd. This time I am looking at the relationship between Jesus and Barabbas.

Barabbas was a notorious criminal, but he was more than that, the very name Barabbas, Bar-Abbas, meaning the son of Abbas, Abbas means father. Barabbas means the son of the father, which is the title of the Christ. Barabbas was making himself out to be the Messiah or the Christ.


There were two Christs on trial before Pilate that day. The question the crowd had to answer is what kind of Christ, what kind of Messiah do you want? These were the options:

1. Barabbas.

It has been said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Barabbas comes into that category. The people were frustrated by lack self determination and frustrated by the sight of a foreign occupying army on their streets. Who wouldn’t be? The terrorist feeds on this. Their weapon is not the sword, in the same way that modern day terrorists’ weapons are not the bomb or assault rifle. Their weapon is hate and they wish to spread hate and fear. Making the people afraid to go out is half the battle. Barabbas, the notorious criminal who styled himself as a freedom fighter and more importantly as a messiah figure fits this model.

2. Jesus

Jesus was a different kind of messiah altogether. Mortified by love, with an intent to spread love and whose weapon was love, he was the total opposite sort of Christ to Barabbas. Jesus was also not the sort of Christ the people were expecting. They wanted a freedom fighter that would kick out the Roman occupiers for good. They wanted a military messiah. Jesus was not a military messiah.

A military messiah who will take up arms against the enemy is not God’s Messiah. Jesus was God’s Messiah, not a christ, but The Christ. He demonstrated through his life God’s way, God’s values of love, care, reconciliation and healing. Jesus was not going to change that now. He was still the one in control, he was about do demonstrate what God’s love was really like. He was about the demonstrate the values of the Kingdom of God.

The people had a choice, which type of Messiah, which type of Christ do you want? They chose the wrong one. They chose man’s christ over God’s Christ.

Which Christ will you choose? The christ of conflict or the Christ of love. It’s your choice.

Here is the passage I am looking at:

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Matthew 27 ESVUK

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Free image by dennisflarsen on


Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s