We Are All Barabbas (40 Days of Easter Truth #35)
Easter Focus Passage: Luke 23:13-25
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people,
14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him.
15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.
16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”
19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.
21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.
24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.
25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Easter Truth – DAY THIRTY-FIVE:
Every year, Christians from all walks of life come together in their homes, churches, and communities to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we read His story, act it out in Easter plays, preach it from the pulpit, and discuss it in small groups, we experience afresh and anew the wonderful grace extended to us on that day thousands of years ago.
We not only talk about Jesus, but we also talk about the other characters that help to make up the Easter story. We think of Judas who betrayed Jesus, Peter who denied he even knew Jesus, the lawmakers of that day who mocked Jesus, the crowds of people who condemned Jesus and called for His crucifixion, and Pilate who gave the people what they wanted by handing Jesus over to die.
A less talked about character in this story is Barabbas. Barabbas was a criminal in prison for starting an insurrection (which is a rebellion or revolt against authority) and for murder. He was a criminal, guilty as charged of multiple crimes, and by the law of that day, he deserved to die.
The gospel of Luke paints a beautiful picture of the grace which is to be poured out in abundance at the cross. Jesus, an innocent, sinless man took the place of a guilty, sinful man. Even though on multiple accounts, Herod and Pilate both had declared Jesus innocent and “found in him no grounds for the death penalty”, He was still exchanged with someone who had been found guilty and was deserving of death. Under pressure from the crowd of people, Jesus is delivered over to receive the punishment of death while Barabbas is set free and given new life.
Luke tells this story with such emphasis and conviction that it leads us to believe he wants us to understand something here. He wants us to understand that just as Jesus’ condemnation to death led to new life for Barabbas, Jesus’ death on the cross leads to new life for all of us. Jesus is clearly innocent. Barabbas is clearly guilty. And we are all Barabbas. We are all clearly guilty of sin. If we were to stand trial today for our sins, each and every one of us would be guilty as charged and deserving of the punishment of death — just like Barabbas.
In these few verses, we see an abounding, abundant foretaste of grace that is to come on the cross. Jesus is condemned to die while Barabbas is given a second chance. We are all Barabbas. We are all criminals, sinners who have broken the laws of God, rebelled against our perfect creator, and deserve to die for what we have done. But Jesus gave Himself for us. He took our criminal standing, took our place in prison, delivered us to grace, let us go free, and gave us a second change.
While our sins are great, the grace of God is greater still. The grace extended to Barabbas back then is the same grace that is extended to all of us today. Christ’s innocence has become our innocence; Christ’s life has become our life so that in understanding our need for a Saviour, we become free by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Lord, we are all Barabbas. We are all guilty of sin and deserving of death but because of Your amazing grace and sacrifice, You took our place so that we could go free. Thank You for giving up Yourself for us, taking our chains and putting them on Yourself, taking our sins and bearing them on Your back. There is nothing that surpasses Your grace and we receive it humbly. Help us to live in constant view of the amazing grace You unleashed at the cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.