This is a very common reaction for those who refuse to accept God's truth and His way. When Jesus came along, He brought with Him a whole new way, a better way of coming before God and receiving His grace, love and forgiveness. This of course, challenged the established religious beliefs of the day, and required people to forsake their "old man" in order to become "a new creature in Christ Jesus". This appeal to forsake themselves in the love of God did not sit well with those who didn't want to change, those who feared what that kind of future would hold and chose instead to go with the "known" and the "established" and hence rejected the love of God against themselves, ( "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves"-Lk 7:30) and chose rather a thief and a murderer so intent were they on not following the "change" that God had placed before them.
Is it always easy to follow God's way ? After all, shouldn't it be comfortable? I can hear it now,"yes, but He said, My yoke is easy and my burden is light", totally missing the point. While it is beyond the shadow of a doubt true that to carry out God's work is an easy yoke and burden, it is equally true that that only takes place after you have forsaken yourself to the will of God.
Too many people have the mistaken idea that the sacrifice of the cross was no big deal. After all "He was the Son of God", implying that it was a snap for Him to go through all that humiliation, torture and at the darkest hour, the seperation from His father to boot.
"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt(Mt 26:39).
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground"(Lk 22:44).
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"(Mk 15:34)
Still sound like a walk in the parc ? Death to the self is always a trying time, as witnessed by the Apostle Paul when he said," I die daily"(1Co 15:31). Sometimes we even feel that physical death would be easier to handle than the breakings and moldings that God's Holy Spirit is calling on us to traverse; especially true for Christians who already have the reassurance of eternal life, but are finding the refining process difficult in spite of that fact.
This again was brought out by the Apostle Paul in 1Co 15:55,"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"(1Pe 1:7)
The death to self and the old ways is rarely an easy road. It is from the twisting and churning of David's life that came forth the beauty of the Psalms, but it cost David to do that. It cost of himself. It cost his self.
Jesus willingly went to the cross, because He was following the Will of God, no matter the personal cost to Him.
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself."(John 10: 17- 18)
Now we know that the servant is not greater than his Lord; so if Jesus, the Son of God, willingly went to the death of the cross for you, is it any big deal that you should be willing to go to the daily death to self for Him?
The great reassurance we have is that He went through it before we, and as such can be there with outstretched arms and an understanding heart to guide us to a freer life
rid of the old dead weight of pre-conditioned fears and chains of the soul.
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"(Heb 4:15).
" How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"(Mt 23:37). How many hear the call of God in their hearts but due to fear or pride chose to ignore it rather than to willingly go to the death of self and call for "Barabbas" instead ?
This position is not without it's own dangers. For the Lord said,"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God"(Ex 34:14)..."Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."(Ga 6:7) You may think that it is no big deal and that you can just go back to the old ways and everything will continue on as it were, so to speak. Not so, for,"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."(He 10:38)..."He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."(Ps 106:15)
And God's admonition: "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."(Ez 18:32) The point is for you to grow spiritually, to be rid of fear and trepidations, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."(Jn 8:32) Free to love Him with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbour as yourself.
So, what's it going to be ? Jesus ! or Barabbas ?