So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?”The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.”
In some early manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew the name given for the criminal is “Jesus Barabbas” and since the name Barabbas means “son of the father” in Aramaic, you could read verse 17 like this: “So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus son of the father or Jesus who is called Christ?”
The senses of Scripture
CCC 115: According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
The Church teaches that the Scriptures carries up to four “senses,” then with that in mind, we can see two very obvious senses here. First, Pilate offers the criminal or Jesus, imagining that the crowd will choose the innocent man and not a murderer to release as a Passover pardon. Second, here we have two competing people called Jesus, one is the Messiah and one could be considered a false messiah.
When Pilate offered these two competing messiahs, he tipped his hand as to which one he thought they should pick. He called Jesus “the one who is called Christ”, that word “Christ” is frequently thought of as Jesus’ last name, but in reality it was His Messianic title. The word Christ, comes from the Greek Cristos, it means “anointed one”, in Hebrew that word is Messiah.
By referring to Jesus as the Christ, Pilate was acknowledging that some considered Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. This must have infuriated the Pharisees, who reserved to themselves the right to say who was and wasn’t a prophet, never mind the long awaited Messiah.
So we have a man whose name literally means “the son of the father” and we have the only begotten Son of the Eternal Father, who would you have chosen? Both sound similar but the crowds seem to be on the side of Barabbas, a man described as an insurrectionist, he had killed people trying to kick the Romans out of Judea. But the true Messiah would later say, “My kingdom is not of this world”
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barab’bas and destroy Jesus.
Even today we have people who entice us and stir us up to chose a mirage of the messiah. Sometimes the Jesus these people push sounds remarkably similar to the genuine one, whether it’s “never get sick Jesus”, the “be happy all the time Jesus”, or my favorite, the “all your bills paid off and no more financial trouble Jesus”, what we must do is measure every version of Jesus up against His Gospel.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
(1 John 4:1)
This is not to say that we should be skeptical of everything, but we should pray for the spirit of discernment, and if someone tells you something, or a homily doesn’t sound orthodox, then feel free to go to scripture and the teachings of the Church to “test the spirits” as St. John tells us to.
I do not even want for myself to be exempt from this, if you read anything I say that doesn’t sit well with you, check the Bible and the Catechism. I strive to make sure every word I write and say, about matters of faith, lines up with the word of God and the Magisterium of His Church, but sometimes we come across teachings that don’t line up. (And by all means, if I’m wrong, please correct my error “Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance.” Sirach 4:25)
Jesus warned his disciples to be on guard;
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
I want everyone to be aware of false teachings. So when presented with Barabbas and Jesus Christ, you will know the difference and choose the true Son of the Father.
“The Jesus who makes everything okay for everyone is a phantom, a dream, not a real figure” –
Pope Benedict XVI
(This post originally appeared at Catholic365.com )
7 comments on “What Jesus Do You Follow?”
It has been puzzling for me the Catholic Belief in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception. If we are to believe that Mary was “sinless”, either due to her innocence or holiness before ever conceiving Jesus; then she was the “first” of all human’s without the need for salvation. We have your illustration used above in another sense. Or, is the Immaculate Conception only in reference to Jesus and His ‘kind’ of birth? Perhaps you could, if willing, kindly explain how Mary being “the Mother of God” wasn’t always viewed as “completely” sinless since her birth? Your clarification would shed light on this subject for me and others. Thank you for any understanding you offer here. Timothy.
Mary is believed to be sin less from the moment of her conception because God preserved her from “contracting” original sin (for lack of a better term).
Mary wasn’t saved outside of Christ, or by any other savior, because there’s only one savior for all mankind. She was saved by Jesus’ work on Calvary, but because God is outside of time He applied His salvific work to her before she was even born. That’s why mary said her soul “rejoices in God my savior.”
The best analogy I’ve heard for this is the puddle of mud.
If you fall into a puddle of mud, God can reach down and pick you up. And then He can clean you off.
Or, He can reach out and grab you before you hit the puddle.
He saved you either way, but in one instance He preserved you from ever getting dirty.
I hope that helps explain it.
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Thank you so much for your prompt reply! Yes, I finally do feel that I can now understand this belief. A fellow Christian (who IS Catholic) was telling me of his conversion to Catholicism due to his vision of Mary telling him that hers was an Immaculate Conception. He (as one who believes he is a “private prophet”) claims for the Lord God that Protestants are not ‘true Christians’. I personally pray for his opinionated mind. Is this the attitude and/ or position of Catholics towards Protestant believers overall? Again, your kind response in this regard would be most helpful. God bless you. Timothy.
As with many things involving Catholicism, you have to first ask is that the position of the Church or of this individual Catholic.
Is it the official position of the Church that Protestants are not “real Christians”? I can say emphatically that is a no. The Church prays that all will be eventually reunited in a single Christian Faith like Christ prayed for in John 17, but recognizes that some Christians are not in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, but are nonetheless members of the body of Christ. It is sometimes likened to an injured limb; still part of the body, but needing attention and grace to heal the wound that division has caused.
In one of the Church’s dogmatic constitutions it says this
The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth. (Lumen Gentium, 15)
Now we have to ask if individual Catholics see Protestants as “fake” Christians, and unfortunately some do. But like i said, that’s not the official position of the Church. It’s somewhat similar to how there are pro choice Catholics, even though the Church is unabashedly pro life.
You can check out this post about Christian unity here https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2016/07/15/four-marks-of-the-church-one/
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Also check out this post https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2016/11/19/question-why-so-many-divisions-in-christianity/
I’m all about trying to heal these historic wounds to the Body of Christ
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