My Dad enjoyed football. Played for the Clason Point Rams (google them and you get zip; does anybody know anything about the Clason Point Rams?) He followed the pros on TV. When we moved from the Bronx in December of '67, one of the first great memories to be made in our home in Centereach was Dad and I watching the famous "Ice Bowl" victory of the Green Bay Packers over the Dallas Cowboys. I enjoy football. Played for the McCarville Ford Mustangs, and still follow the pros on TV.
My Dad was an artist, too. And he loved vocabulary and plays on words. He was the PunMeister. I'm also an artist, and a wordsmith of sorts. I see the imprint of my father in who I am and what I do. In today's text, we are presented with some father-son pairings and we are presented with a key life decision.
One of the ways the Romans attempted to keep the fringes of the Empire intact was to allow a certain degree of autonomy to local jurisdictions. A bit of freedom to decide and act; a bit of appeasement on the part of the Romans to keep the locals from insurrection. The Roman governor, Pilate in this case, would release on a feast day a prisoner of the mob's choosing. So, two native sons were put up for the crowd to pick from - Barabbas and Jesus.
Jesus is the Son of the Heavenly Father. This 'sonship' is figurative and not literal language, as the New Testament testifies to Jesus being God Himself. (see Matthew 28:17,18; John 1:1-5,14; Colossians 1:15-20). So, Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, embodies and reflects the character of God the Father. Barabbas, however, was a murderer and a rabble-rouser. His name translates literally, Bar (son), Abbas (father). He is also a "son of the father." Odd, seeing as all men are sons of their fathers. But perhaps the name is to be understood, "his father's son," as in 'a chip off the ol' block!' Like father, like son.
My skills and preferences reflect my Dad in me and his influence over me. God the Father is reflected perfectly in His one and only Son. And perhaps Barabbas' father was a violent and unruly man like he was. Fathers impact their sons. One generation influences the next. In presenting the choice of Jesus or Barabbas, I wonder if the Scripture is asking us to make a key life decision. That is, to decide ourselves to release the life of God into our lives, embracing Jesus and pursuing a holy imitation of our Holy Father, or to decide to release the rebellious and hurtful nature of our forefathers in our lives.
We have earthly fathers, some wonderful, some woeful. We stand in the stream of many generations, and as experience and history tell us, they are generations of broken and sinful people. To rise above the common stream and be the wonderful, not the woeful, of our generation, we must reach beyond our earthly forebears to the Father in Heaven. 'Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be THY name."
I love and honor my Dad, and am proud to be called the son of that father. But to have blessed him well, and continue to be a blessing to my own children and the world about, I cannot aspire to merely imitate my earthly father. I must be a true child of my Divine Parent.
Pray: God, I know that you have created me in Your own image. You sent Jesus to love and die for me that I might have Your adoption as a true son. Stir the Spirit of the Son of God in me, that I might reflect You and honor You in all things.