We all love a hero. Mine was Lineker. Top scorer in the 1986 World Cup, he wore a bandage on his hand during that tournament, and aged 7, I remember pretending I’d hurt my wrist and getting my Mum to wrap it up so I could be like Gary. Maybe your hero is a family member, a sporting legend, a women or man of faith, a celebrity, whoever. We love our heroes because we’re designed that way. To admire and almost worship the very ground they walk on. They offer us something we don’t have, and we admire their skill, craft, bravery and probably, deep down, want to be like them. I wanted to be like Lineker – there’s still time…!?
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus stood before Pilate. It was the start of the end of His life here on earth. Pilate offered the crowd a choice; Jesus Christ, or another Jesus, the one they called Jesus-Barabbas. Jesus Barabbas was a notorious criminal and murderer. But Pilate, in keeping with a tradition to release a criminal during the time of the feast, made an offer to the crowd to release one of them. Amazingly, and to the surprise of Pilate, they shouted for Jesus Barabbas, and demanded a crucifixion for Jesus the Christ.
We don’t know for certain, but it has troubled me as to why. Just a week before, Jesus rode into town, to shouts of ‘Hosanna’; a hero’s welcome, the crowd anticipating freedom and release from Roman rule. Jesus the Christ, the Saviour was here and it would only be a matter time before He’d draw his sword and drive the Romans out of the Holy City. But, like many of us, patience with Jesus The Christ ran out. The message Jesus Christ brought was one of peace, loving our enemies and negotiating (blessed are the peacemakers…). There was no place for swords, fighting or violence.
Jesus Barabbas, on the other hand; maybe he could lead another insurrection? He seemed up for a fight. Suddenly, the option to have a known thug back in their midst was a more viable and attractive proposition than Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of the world with them. Who needs peace and negotiation anyway?
Well they did, and we do. For the crowd, in search of a hero, they chose the wrong man. But the real hero did what real heroes always do; they take the selfless road, the road less travelled. And that’s what our Hero, Jesus did; He went to Calvary and died a gruesome death for you, and for me.
As we approach Easter, let me encourage you. Choose the right Jesus. Jesus Barabbas looks so attractive at times; the promise of instant gratification, the promise of an answer right now, the way we would do things, the way of the world. But Jesus Christ beckons you; he’s calling your name. Choose Jesus Christ. Die with Jesus Christ. And by Faith, live for Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20).
He longs to be my hero, your hero. Let’s allow Him that place in our hearts, our minds and our souls. He deserves it.