Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jesus Barabbas & Jesus Barabbas

Matthew 27-28 wraps up the Gospel according to Matthew the Tax Collector. Though I've read through this book quite a few times, and the last chapters every spring, I noticed new details today - it's always fun when that happens.

For example, in my TNIV of the Bible, it gives the full name of the criminal that Pilate released at the request of the crowds: Jesus Barabbas. In the footnote at the bottom it states that many manuscripts do not include the name "Jesus" with Barabbas. But Barabbas is clearly a last name. It means "son of a father". What is so interesting is that Jesus of Nazareth could have just as easily been known as Jesus Barabbas of Nazareth: everyone in the hometown knew that Joseph son of Jacob son of Matthan desecendant of King David was NOT Jesus' father...so who was? According to one legend a Roman soldier named Pantera was the father. According to Matthew's Gospel, the Holy Spirit caused the conception. No human father for Jesus, at least one the locals could not identify, and this could have very easily lead to Jesus of Nazareth also having the last name of Barabbas "son of a father somewhere...".

So Jesus Barabbas and Jesus Barabbas are going to trade fates. What a fascinating piece of the story.


Another tidbit that intrigued me: the last pericope of the gospel is known as the Great Commission. The eleven remaining disciples have travelled north from Jerusalem for several days to the mountains of Galilee. While waiting around, Jesus walks up to them - and the gospel records "when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted." I've read that before and wondered at the honest entry, but today I read it and wondered how that reaction shaped the commission that Jesus offered.

It didn't seem to phase Jesus any that some of his disciples still doubted him (Thomas did and got to poke Jesus... was he back to doubting again?). Jesus went ahead and still gave the instruction. As worshippers and doubters, go and make disciples. Go as you are - I'll be with you, I wouldn't leave you alone to disciple the nations! For the worshippers, the ready believers, he gives them direction by which they can channel their enthusiasm and energy. For the doubters, he affirms for them his authority, his presence till the End of All Things, and his identity with the Father and the Holy Spirit - he's not just any Barabbas - he is THE Son of God who is the Father and Creator of the Universe!

I'm a doubter. I'm glad that Jesus will still walk with me through this life. He's open to you walking with him if you want. Do you want to?

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