"So do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" They cried out again, "not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber. John 18:39-40 (ESV)
What could make people so blind that they would want to release a notorious criminal and crucify the man who had healed their friends and miraculously fed thousands?
It was irrational. Jesus had done nothing to endanger the populace. He was a quiet teacher who refused to resort to military tactics to establish his kingdom. Even Pilate, the suspicious and fearful Roman official, had declared there was nothing criminal about Jesus. Why the vehement hatred?
Rejecting God's word is serious - whether it was the law that Moses received, which implemented dire consequences when violated, or the living Word who came among the people, or the word illuminated by the Holy Spirit to us today. God's word is not just another idea or philosophy that lies passively on the shelf in the marketplace of ideas. It is not like picking the preferred tomatoes from the produce isle or deciding which book to purchase from the bookstore. Those choices have minimal consequences related to our present and future lives, but what we do with the word of God either propels us into a new realm of reality or strips us of our ability to think and act rationally.
Jesus had said, "Be careful what you hear...for to the one who has, more will be given and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away" (Mark 4:24-25). He was speaking about how we respond to the revelation God gives. Those who respond get more. Those who don't, lose what they have.
In the current religious culture, we treat the word of God lightly. We seem to live with an arrogant attitude that his word is no different than the nightly news. His word to us still has the power to transform. To reject or neglect it is a sure fire way of losing what we already have. This is a warning we should take seriously. We are not just dealing with ideas. We are engaged with a personal God who insists on trust. We can share in the riches in Christ by believing his word or we can fall into a rebellious revolution against God and his creation.