The world cries out for a murderer to be released while the innocent one takes the rap

by Charles Gardner

JERUSALEM, 25 May, 2021 – As the dust settles in the wake of the latest conflict between Hamas and Israel, I am reminded of the lead-up to Christ’s crucifixion as I consider how today’s world still calls for the terrorist to be freed, and Jesus, the innocent, to take the rap.

You will perhaps recall that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, had found no fault with our Lord, and wanted to release him. But it was against the will of the people. However, a way out of Pilate’s dilemma was apparently offered by the custom of freeing a prisoner during the Passover feast.

He thus chose Barabbas, “a notorious prisoner” (Matthew 27:16) who had committed murder as part of an insurrection, as the alternative to freeing Jesus. I guess he figured this would increase the chances of the innocent man going free. But the crowd, incited by the religious leaders, shouted all the louder for Jesus to be crucified.

In the same way today, we hear much about ‘freeing Palestine’. The long-suffering Palestinian people do indeed need to be free – of Hamas and the like, and the lies that have been used to manipulate them. Indeed, money sent to Gaza for infrastructure and improving the lives of civilians has reportedly been spent on the miles of tunnels built by Hamas.

Hamas is a terrorist organisation committed, not to the welfare of the Palestinians, but to the destruction of the Jewish state, of which Jesus is King (Matthew 2:2) and to which he will one day return to reign over the whole world. Rockets fired at Israeli citizens are a perfect picture of the flaming arrows of enemy attack on God’s people (Ephesians 6:16), of whom it is said: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

In a sense, Jesus is being crucified once again as Satan refuses to acknowledge God’s plans and purposes. Even much of the Church (echoing the religious leaders of Jesus’ day) join the mullahs and Western politicians in a chorus of condemnation of God’s “treasured possession” (Deutereonomy 7:6).

Jesus made clear that the devil was both a murderer and a liar for whom neither life nor truth was sacred (John 8:44). That is why the likes of Hamas, influenced by the devil, are prepared to sacrifice their own people for their deadly cause. Indeed, some of the Palestinian casualties, including children, were killed by Hamas rockets.

Col Richard Kemp, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said of their methods: “Every rocket is a double war crime” – fired indiscriminately at civilian areas from among non-combatants. In an interview with Christians United for Israel, he said they are the first ‘army’ in history to use the deaths of their own population as a weapon of war, adding: “Israel have done everything they can to protect their civilians, whereas Hamas has done exactly the opposite.”1

So why do religious leaders, along with the liberal left, constantly attack Israel with such venom? Because, as in the case of abortion, they reflect the world’s opinions about moral and theological issues. They won’t allow their minds to be renewed, as Paul urged the Romans (Romans 12:2) after berating the Gentiles among them for their arrogance in supposing they had replaced the Jews in God’s purposes (read the previous three chapters). Instead, they conform to the world’s way of thinking by listening to the mainstream media rather than the Bible.

Crucially, teaching on Israel and abortion is rarely heard from the pulpit because it is regarded as too controversial. Welcome to normal Christianity (2 Timothy 3:12)! No wonder the average Christian doesn’t know what to think on these so-called ‘grey’ areas.

Because we have failed to challenge worldly thinking on abortion, just as the German Church failed to stop the Nazis carrying out their murderous programme against the Jews, we have witnessed the slaughter of nine million unborn innocents since the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act. And the woke propaganda continues as the BBC’s otherwise excellent Call the Midwife series meekly panders to the liberal agenda on the issue.

Now we have so-called ‘Drill’ music which glamorises gangland murder and violence, with lyrics about stabbing people in the back – literally. Earlier this month, a Drill song reached No 1 in the Official Singles Chart for the first time.2 So it’s hardly surprising that we have seen a shocking increase in crime rates in recent years. Where will all this murder and mayhem end?

What are we feeding our kids? is a new TV programme aimed at encouraging healthier diets for our children in the light of growing obesity. But an even more serious question is: What are we feeding their minds with? The lies of the devil, or the truth of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ?

As I said, Jesus describes the devil as both a murderer and a liar. Addressing his opponents, he said: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Which brings me back to Gaza. Media watchdog Honest Reporting has caught a Canadian journalist implying that Israel had cut off humanitarian aid to Gaza, but failing to tell the truth: that Palestinian terrorists were the actual culprits3. All of which is designed to make Israel look the bad guy.

Who is feeding our minds? Who are we listening to? Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

One other point worth mentioning. Some translations also include the first name of Barabbas, which was Jesus! There are many who seem to worship a Jesus who is unrecognisable to those who truly love him, which begs the question: Do we worship Jesus the terrorist or Jesus the Messiah, Son of God and Saviour of the world?


  1. CUFI, 18 May 2021
  2. Daily Mail, 17t May 2021
  3. United with Israel, 23 May 2021

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