They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.
Part of the oral history of the historic black sororities and fraternities (The Divine 9) is a short poem called “Excuses.” The author is unknown and among us are different versions, but one version is this:
Excuses tools of incompetence
Used to build monuments of nothingness
Those who use them
Seldom amount to anything.
As I reflect on this poem, I think of what Jesus did for us. Jesus didn’t make any excuses, even when it came to death on the cross. The reality of Jesus’ sacrifice is seen clearly in John 18:40. After Pilate questioned Jesus and found no reason to hold him, he asked the crowd if he should release Jesus. “They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”
Imagine that you are on trial. You are 100% innocent. You have done nothing but help people. In fact, the reason why you are standing before the judge and jury is because you are helping people. Imagine that every piece of evidence submitted points to your innocence. Imagine that the eyewitnesses accounts conflict so much that they are no longer valid.
Imagine that you were just betrayed by one of your own, who ratted you out to the police and pointed them to you for some money. Imagine that even though your toughest crew member is probably justified in cutting off the ear of one of the crooked cops, you can’t help yourself and you heal the man who came to arrest you.
Imagine that the rest of your crew has abandoned you. Imagine sitting in that courtroom, and you hear from the jury, we don’t care that he is not guilty we want to use our grace card on a real criminal. We want you to release the man that has stolen from us and hurt us. We want to punish the man who has been helping us and healing us.
That’s what happened in John 18 and it culminates in verse 40 when the crowd chose the bandit over the Savior. But, Jesus didn’t let that stop him from doing what needed to be done. He didn’t make any excuses. He didn’t turn around and say never mind. Jesus carried out his assignment.
What if we approached our walk with God and our witness in this world the way Jesus faced his trial? What if we made no excuses when God asked us to do something? What if we just trusted God to the point where we said yes instead of building monuments to nothing?
Today, as you reflect, think of your excuses and then think of how Jesus would respond.