Morning Devotional


But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”.

[Luke 23:18]

At first glance it appears the raucous shouts of a bloodthirsty crowd caused Pilate to send Jesus to his death. But in fact, an unseen higher will was at work in and through the human actors in this moving drama.

Alexander Maclaren shares this fascinating sketch of the criminal Barabbas.


“This coarse desperado was the people’s favorite because he embodied their notions and aspirations, and had been bold enough to do what every one of them would have done if he had dared. He had headed one of the many small riots against Rome. There had been bloodshed in which he had himself taken part.

“Jesus had taught what the people did not care to hear, given blessings which even the recipients soon forgot, and lived a life whose ‘splendor of … holiness’ (2 Chronicles 20:21) rebuked the common life of all.

“What chance did truth, kindness and purity have against the sort of bravery that slashes with a sword and is not elevated above the mob by beauty of thought or character? Even now, after nineteen centuries, are the popular ‘heroes’ of Christian nations saints or teachers or humanitarians, whose Christlikeness is the thing venerated?

“The vote for Barabbas and against Jesus is an instructive commentary on human nature.”


Popularity is often a fleeting illusion. Today’s bestsellers soon sit on the shelf unnoticed. Superstars endure only for a few brief seasons.

Society exalts winners and ignores losers. The world saw only a pitiful loss when Jesus went to the cross. In fact, they were viewing the greatest victory of all time.

When you think about it, who would remember Barabbas today if Jesus had not died and been raised?

Better to be condemned with Jesus than accepted with Barabbas. Wouldn’t you agree?

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