"Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, 'Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'" Matthew 27:15-17
The decision seems obvious, huh? An innocent man or a notorious prisoner. The elders and chief priests knew the charges they had against Jesus were false. They knew, and Pilate knew, that envy was the motivation for the prosecution of Jesus. Yet, it was the elders and chief priests who persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released.
We are terrible decision makers. When given an obvious choice we choose the one that will lead to our death much of the time or, at best, the one that is less good for us.
Sometimes we choose death over life. We hear the Gospel presented and choose not to buy in. We hear that cigarettes will kill us and then light up. We know that sin is dangerous but we partake. We are awful choosers.
We also are bad decision makers because we often ask for less than what we can get. If someone told you that you were as a sinner and you deserve Hell because of that, what would you ask God for? Forgiveness? A chance to make it up to Him? A less horrible Hell? Those are things I would think to ask God for if I knew what the stakes were. Yet, God made the decision for us. We don't have to ask for forgiveness because God offered it before we asked. And on top of that God gives us adoption into His family, the right to rule in the New Heaven and New Earth, He gives us complete victory over future sins instead of simply forgiveness from past sins, He wipes away all the bad we should get and gives us all the good we don't deserve. Thank God that He set up the deal and not us because we would have gotten less... a lot less.
Think of the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor in Matthew 18:21-35. The man owed an outrageously, un-payable amount of money. The man didn't ask for total loan forgiveness. No, he asked for more time to pay back the loan and was offered total forgiveness. See, we wouldn't ask for the kind of good God can give. We are bad decision makers and need God to make the decision for us.
In 2 Kings chapters 18 and 19 King Hezekiah was facing an enormous foe. The super-power of the day, Assyria, was headed to Jerusalem to wipe the king and his people out. Now, what would you pray for if you were Hezekiah? I would pray for limited casualties in victory or even in defeat. I would pray that God would give me a military strategy to defeat the mighty Assyrian army.
Here's what God did, because He had bigger and better plans.
"That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew." 2 Kings 19:35-36a
Rather than giving Hezekiah limited casualties in a victory, which would have been amazing for little Judah versus huge Assyria, God went and did all the work Himself and no one perished on Judah's side. God the war Himself in a night. When God makes the decision and we don't, good things happen.
With all that in mind here was the Gospel verse I found in my reading of Psalms this week.
"He chose our inheritance for us" Psalm 47:4a
God chose our inheritance for us. See, we wouldn't choose what God chose for us. We can't imagine the good God has for us. We would under ask when He is graciously eager to extravagantly give. God chose the blessings offered in the Gospel. Thank God!
On our own we choose Barabbas instead of Jesus. On our own we choose solutions that won't work instead of the for sure Gospel. On our own we choose crumbs when Christ is ready with a feast. Thank God that He choose our inheritance for us today.