Identifying with Barabbas

Our wintry, spring weather has continued today. Some snow in the air off and on, but none that is sticking to the ground. We are told within a week, we will be having 80 degree temperatures. I worked today on a funeral service that I will be conducting on Monday. This will be my first one in a number of years. I was glad that I got in a workout at the fitness center. I am trying to up my frequency to see if I can push forward in my recovery.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  Then they all cried out together, “Take this man away! Release Barabbas to us!”  (He had been thrown into prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, but they kept shouting, “Crucify! Crucify Him!” Luke 23:18-21 HCSB

As I read once again the chapters about Jesus crucifixion, I was reminded of the personalities involved and the contrasts. We see Pilate and Herod, two men, different leaders who had been enemies, became friends. We see Pilate the ruthless, desiring to show mercy and the religious leaders demanding death. We see scant evidence of any charges against Jesus from the many witnesses who could not “get their story straight.” As a result, Jesus had to incriminate Himself, so they would have something to charge Him with. As a matter of fact the only time Jesus spoke, was not to defend Himself, but words that ended up condemning Him.

The death of Jesus all hinged on this “great exchange” with Barabbas. What Pilate viewed as a “way out” of a difficult situation backfired. He never thought the jealousy of the religious leaders and their influence over the crowds would allow them to exchange a well known terrorist or the innocent Nazarene.

However, it is in this “turning point” that we find the greatest picture of what the cross is all about. Jesus died in the place of the condemned. He died the innocent one for the guilty.

We see it prophesied in Isaiah, But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5,6 NIV) Peter declared, “…Christ suffered for our sins once. He was an innocent person, but he suffered for guilty people so that he could bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18 GW) Paul declared, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Christ…died…for…us! For you and for me and for Barabbas. We don’t relate to the brutality and evil of Barabbas’ actions, but we all have a sentence of death on our head, because no sin can stand in the presence of a Holy God. Whether we view our sin as great or as insignificant, it all separates us from God. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NIV)

I recall a depiction of a man watching Jesus being whipped and tortured, the man in his dream, goes to stop the solider. As the man grabs the shoulder of the man with whip, the solider turns to look at the man who is stopping him and the man see his own face on the soldier.

It is our sin that placed Jesus on the cross. The words of the old hymn says it well, “He was nailed to the cross for me. One the cross crucified for me He died, He was nailed to the cross for me.” When we read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, Barabbas is not some legendary ancient criminal, he represents you and I and everyone for whom Jesus died. Jesus was condemned, we are set free. Thank the Lord for His love, grace and mercy offered through Jesus.