“Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.” Mark 15:6-7
What is it about bad guys that makes us romanticize them into heroes?
As adults most of us aren’t too often inclined to turn criminals into role models but I remember doing just that very thing when I was a boy. My older brother, Jim, actually preferred playing the bad guys when we were kids.
Robin Hood, Jean Lafitte, Jesse James, Billy The Kid. These are just a handful of the “bad guy” historical figures I and my friends pretended to be when we were children. And there are an even larger number of fictional bad guys that we loved to pretend to be.
It’s tempting to ask ourselves what it is about the bad guys that attracts us to them but that’s really the wrong question. We should be asking what it is about us that causes us to be attracted to the bad guys.
Perhaps it comes down to the the fact that we’re all sinners and it’s easier to see ourselves in the bad guy. It’s easier to find kinship or imagine friendship with the bad guys. Because our hearts are bad we understand their perspective better and are drawn to them. They also get to do some of the things we secretly want to do but won’t let ourselves do because we know it’s bad.
Our attraction to the bad and our disinclination to romanticize the good combined together to make it easy to stir up the multitudes to cry out for a murderer to be released and the innocent Son of God to be crucified. For us there’s really no mystery as to why. We’re sinful sinners and that explains it all.
But Jesus wasn’t willing to leave us trapped here in our sinfulness. That’s why he quietly took our condemnation. That’s why he unresistingly allowed himself to be convicted. By dying for sinfulness that wasn’t his he was made able to give us righteousness and salvation that isn’t ours. And that’s not pretend. It’s for real.