Advent Review and Sabbath Herald,
January 30, 1900 (Vol. 77, #5)
“Christ or Barabbas? [Concluded]”
The scene in the judgment hall in Jerusalem is a symbol of what will take place in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. The world will accept Christ, the Truth, or they will accept Satan, the first great rebel, a robber, apostate, and murderer. They will either reject the message of mercy in regard to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, or they will accept the truth as it is in Jesus. If they accept Satan and his falsehoods, they identify themselves with the chief of all liars, and with all who are disloyal, while they turn from no less a personage than the Son of the infinite God.
God has a controversy with those who accept the fallacies of the great apostate, which are prepared to suit every class in the Christian world, and who discard the law of God, pronounced by Inspiration to be “holy, and just, and good.” By the death of Christ the changeless character of this moral standard of righteousness is shown. Christ lived the law of God’s government; he was an expression of God’s character; and he died to save men from the penalty of the transgression of this law. Those who reject God’s law crucify the Son of God afresh. They identify themselves with those who crucified him between two thieves on the cross of Calvary.
The world is asleep. The people know not the time of their visitation. To them the words apply; “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” All need to be aroused. We can not afford to be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security or indifference; for we are deciding our eternal destiny. The record of the shameful trial in the judgment hall has passed up to heaven, and is the standard by which all are measured, whether they stand under the bloodstained banner of Christ, or under the black banner of the prince of darkness.
There can be only two classes. Each party is distinctly stamped, either with the seal of the living God, or with the mark of the beast or his image. Each son and daughter of Adam chooses either Christ or Barabbas as his general. And all who place themselves on the side of the disloyal are standing under Satan’s black banner, and are charged with rejecting and despitefully using Christ. They are charged with deliberately crucifying the Lord of life and glory.
Each one has an important question to answer for himself: Are you on the side of Satan, a transgressor of God’s law, or are you loyal to that God who declared himself to be, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” God’s character is here displayed as his glory. God has delivered all judgment into the hands of his Son; and as a righteous judge, Christ must pass sentence on every work whether it be good or bad. Justice is as much an expression of love as mercy.
The world is not improving. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. By rejecting the Son of God, the personification of the only true God, who possessed goodness, mercy, and untiring love, whose heart was ever touched with human woe, and choosing a murderer in his stead, the Jews showed what human nature can and will do when the restraining power of the Spirit of God is removed, and men are under the control of the apostate. Those who choose Satan as their ruler will reveal the spirit of their chosen master.
The world will not improve till God goes out of his place to punish her for her iniquity. Then the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. Christ warned his disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
When Christ was upon this earth, the world preferred Barabbas. And today the world and the churches are making the same choice. The scenes of the betrayal, the rejection, and the crucifixion of Christ have been re-enacted, and will again be re-enacted on an immense scale. People will be filled with the attributes of the enemy, and with them his delusions will have great power. Just to that degree that light is refused will there be misconception and misunderstanding. Those who reject Christ and choose Barabbas work under a ruinous deception. Misrepresentation and false witness will grow to open rebellion. The eye being evil, the whole body will be full of darkness. Those who give their affections to any leader but Christ will find themselves under the control, body, soul, and spirit, of an infatuation that is so entrancing that under its power souls turn away from hearing the truth to believe a lie. They are ensnared and taken, and by their every action they cry, Release unto us Barabbas, but crucify Christ.
Even now this decision is being made. The scenes enacted at the cross are being re-enacted. In the churches that have departed from truth and righteousness it is being revealed what human nature can do and will do when the love of God is not an abiding principle in the soul. We need not be surprised at anything that may take place now. We need not marvel at any developments of horror. Those who trample under their unholy feet the law of God have the same spirit as had the men who insulted and betrayed Jesus. Without any compunction of conscience, they will do the deeds of their father, the devil. They will ask the question that came from the traitorous lips of Judas, What will you give me if I betray unto you Jesus the Christ? Even now Christ is being betrayed in the person of his saints.
In view of the history of the life and death of Christ, can we be surprised if the world is hollow and insincere? Can we in our day trust in man, or make flesh our arm? Shall we not choose Christ as our leader? He alone can save us from sin.
When the world is at last brought up for trial before the great white throne, to account for its rejection of Jesus Christ, God’s own messenger to our world, what a solemn scene it will be! What a reckoning will have to be made for nailing to the cross One who came to our world as a living epistle of the law. God will ask each one the question, What have you done with my only begotten Son? What will those answer who have refused to accept the truth?– They will be obliged to say, We hated Jesus, and cast him out. We cried, Crucify him, crucify him. We chose Barabbas in his stead. If those to whom the light of heaven is presented reject it, they reject Christ. They reject the only provision whereby they may be cleansed from pollution. They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. To them it will be said, “I never knew you: depart from me.” God will assuredly avenge the death of his Son.
Mrs. E. G. White.