Choosing Barabbas

Barabbas was guilty of sedition, rioting, and murder, yet the Good Friday crowd chose him over the innocent Jesus.  Modern society would never do that, would it? NPR’s “Morning Edition” did a story on the Supreme Court’s dealing with the drugs used in lethal injection. This issue came before them because people are exerting more energy to defend guilty life than to defend innocent.

Granted, people have been wrongly convicted of capital crimes, but this isn’t about whether Barabbas is guilty. It is about the drug cocktail used to put him to death. The first drug puts the condemned into a deep coma-like state. The Supreme Court upheld the use of this drug in 2008. That’s when drug companies, pharmacists, and doctors began choosing Barabbas over Jesus.

Quoting the story, “Under pressure from groups opposed to the death penalty, manufactures have refused to provide sodium thiopental or a similar drug called pentobarbital for use in executions. In addition, the American Pharmacists Association has joined the American Medical Association in discouraging members from participating in executions in any way” (4/29/15 air date).

Would that this was their position over against the execution of the unborn! Would that drug companies refuse to provide the pills that cause abortion! Would that the American Pharmacists Association and the American Medical Association discourage their members from participating any way in the killing of a million plus babies every year in America!

But no, they choose those legally convicted over those never convicted of anything. I suppose the real Barabbas choosers are the unnamed “groups opposed to the death penalty.”  That would make the drug companies, the APA, and the AMA, Pilates who cave to the pressure.

The reason the case is before the Supreme Court again is because prison officials were forced to use another drug, and death penalty opponents claim that drug is cruel and unusual based on an Oklahoma execution that went wrong. Officials claim it wasn’t the drug used but a procedural error.

In order to get away from lethal injection as means of execution, Utah has reintroduced the firing squad – which it had until modern times for Mormon reasons, and Oklahoma is moving back to the gas chamber. But the entire Pro-Life movement is not enough of a force to cause drug companies to stop manufacturing drugs to kill the unborn, to stop doctors from proscribing them – actually you don’t even need a prescription – or the pharmacies or pharmacists from distributing them.

Do we actually think there are no consequences for going out of our way to defend the arguably most guilty in our society – those actually convicted by the courts and who have exhausted every appeal – while at the same time going out of our way not to defend the arguably most innocent in our society?

There are consequences. As a country we may not be to strike three but we have two strikes against us according to Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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