The Wrong Jesus

The Wrong Jesus September 26, 2022

Could I be following the wrong Jesus? “So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Messiah?'” (Matthew 27:17) We know how this story turns out. Barabbas is released. We know very little about the man. Matthew describes him as “a notorious prisoner.” John claims he was a “bandit.” Both Luke and Mark say Barabbas was guilty of insurrection and murder. Only Matthew says he is also named Jesus. Could today’s church have chosen the wrong Jesus?

The Wrong Son of the Father

Barabbas the insurrectionist has a name that means “son of the father.” It may be a way of saying he is his father’s son or walks in his father’s footsteps. Obviously, his attempt to displace the authorities failed even though someone dies in the process. It is not described to us in the gospels. One may ask if before this day some of the residents of Jerusalem agreed with his actions. I have watched many church people in the last few years. And I wish I could say I am baffled. But I am not.

I know that church people live in fear and attempt to appear otherwise. They have a view of God that allows them to play psychological tricks on themselves. Their greatest fear is an existential one. And being fearful makes them react harshly to every apparent threat. I can only conclude one thing. Either they or I am following the wrong Jesus. They believe in the wrong father. Their god must always be pleased with them. If so, then their actions are right even though they appear evil.

Spirit of Destruction

Ever since the insurrection of January 6th 2021, I have pondered this problem in the churches. There are those who upheld the Unite The Right rioters, the proud boys, and the oath-keepers in the churches and leading them. Their view of God is troubling. The moral reasoning of such people is far away from the Beatitudes. They do not love their neighbor, and, therefore, cannot truly love God. How humanity is viewed corrupts how they see their neighbors. And this twists the image of God into a child setting up dominoes just to strike them down. Any domino that remains standing would then be considered loved.

The crowd is persuaded to ask for Barabbas to celebrate Moses delivering the Israelites. But what Barabbas did was the very thing Moses tried to do forty years earlier. He fled Egypt when he realized his murdering an Egyptian overseer was known. St. Stephen in Acts 7 argues Moses thought this was what God wanted. Moses missed the point.

Wrong Acts

The January 6th insurrection is a logical extension of the beliefs of too many so-called evangelicals. The problem is they have not learned from it. I see evidence of this in the present splintering of my denomination. For the people serving as WCA/GMC spokespeople, no lie is too big. No misrepresentation is too illogical. These people hold fast to and promote homophobia while claiming in the new church gays will be welcome.

A colleague said after the 2019 General Conference where these same people got their way, “they will leave anyway and try burning everything down on the way out.” She is correct. So, I see these are folk devoted to Jesus Barabbas. It is his attitude and actions they emulate. Honestly, it gets more difficult to receive Holy Communion with them. It is a resentment that is hard to overcome.

Doing Right In The Face of Deep Evil

The church is a haven for deeply evil people. The phrase “deeply evil” denotes people who know they are doing wrong for the sake of upholding apparent evil while denying they are doing it. The lay people may know better. But the clergy definitely know better. And so, the only thing to be done, is deny them the ability to destroy your good. Do good in spite of their trying to tear things apart.

Deceivers lie because it is their nature to do so. The biggest lie may be telling the rest of us we are deceived by the greatest liar.

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