The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

I was thinking about the Kingdom of God recently in view of Pope Francis’ desire to serve the poor, and choose St. Francis of Assisi, known to many for his care for the poor, for the environment, and his love of Peace, as his namesake. When I heard of this name choice, I thought of the following Scripture from Luke 4, (NIV):



“16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” “



As Jesus began to proclaim the Kingdom of God, choosing this Hebrew Scripture from Isaiah 61, which goes into even more explanation of God’s concern for Social Justice, he seems to be introducing a Gospel of a new type of Kingdom on earth. The earthly Kingdoms and the Powers over those kingdoms seem to be more interested in ruling over humans, not setting them free, and certainly not ruling “under” as servants to humans under their jurisdiction.



I am writing today not to explain my thinking specifically regarding the Kingdom of God, but to tell you about a connection to Barabbas regarding the proclamation of Jesus quoted above. I am sure many have already thought of this connection before, but it had never really registered with me until today during Grace Church’s Palm Sunday worship service the connection between Luke 4 and Barabbas. We were watching a video where a man was imitating Peter, and said he was so sorry for betraying Jesus, that concerning the cross, it should have been me, (Peter.) Then I thought of Luke 4, and how the release of Barabbas was a also a fulfilling of this Scripture because it was the sinner, Barabbas, who was a captive set free… Then I thought. It should have been me, (John Cooper.) Then I thought, it should have been all of us, the whole world, and how the cross and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection set all of us, captive to sin, free… Not just us though, According to other Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 5, Jesus was reconciling the whole world.



Speaking of setting people free, let us look at this Scripture from Colossians 1 (NIV):



“20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”



So, here we go… Jesus setting Captives free, including Barabbas, you, and me, and reconciling all things to himself, on earth and in heaven, and making Peace too! Could it be finished? Could all we human captives to sin, including our enemies, all things, everyone, be set free? Would that not be good news, if it were true? I believe it is true! Some people, including some Christians, may not believe God is big enough to do things just like that, but I do, and it is my name written on the purple robes on the cross at Grace Church today with the words about setting captives free written on the robe, with many other names too at Grace Church today…. Let’s just imagine your name is there to, and that the whole world will be as one, living life in Peace… I may be a dreamer, but I am not the only one… :):)



So, thank you Pope Francis, for choosing that name and getting me to thinking about the Kingdom of God, that looks like Jesus, that looks like you, someone who came to serve under, not over others… Assuming that is what you mean to do and mean to continue to do… May we all do the same… Oh, and thank you Barabbas, if you are in heaven already reconciled. It should have been you… It should have been me…. It should have been us..



John Cooper
Grace & Peace,

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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