A free man takes the place of a prisoner. A criminal walks free while the Perfect One is chained. Forced to carry the cross He will be soon nailed to, Jesus is pinned by His arms and legs to beams of wood on display in His undergarments for all to see. Slowly, painfully He suffocates to death. How twisted.
As I sit here, digesting and re-digesting the text of Barabbas and Jesus, I find myself wondering what the life of the criminal was like. What was it like before he was imprisoned? What was he like after the crowded demanded his freedom? Did his life continue as if he had never been imprisoned? Did he ever stop himself, mid task, and realize what had been done for him?
To be truthful, I’ve never liked Barabbas. He deserved his chains. He deserved the cross. There seems to be no record of his remorse or an expression of gratitude for his underserving freedom. It’s like he didn’t even care that his freedom would cost the life of another.
Jesus was perfect, yet the crowd still condemned Him and Barabbas still walked away a free man. I struggle with this.
Recently I was introduced to a sermon jam by Judah Smith, pastor at the City Church in Seattle,WA. My eyes were re-opened to the story of Barabbas and Jesus, and my heart was softened as God’s heart for His people was illustrated through a man I secretly detained. To my horror, I am discovering how often I resemble the one I love to dislike.
In reality, I am Barabbas.
You are Barabbas.
We are Barabbas.
Yet God loves us all. He, unlike us, sees us all through His eyes of grace.
And He wanted Barabbas to go free.
We are all sinners. We all deserve to be bound in chains. We all deserve to die. Yet, while we were still living lives of sin, Christ took our chains, our punishment, our cross upon Himself.
For Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas, so that He could treat Barabbas like Jesus.
Barabbas thought it was the people who set him free, when in fact it was the love of a heavenly father.
What a beautiful illustration of the scandalous grace of God. He takes our sins, allows us to go free, knowing we are each guaranteed offenders.
I am so thankful that Jesus knows that I am no match for the power of sin. He knows that my only option for salvation, for true freedom is for me to allow Him to take my chains; for He has already been treated like Barabbas, so I can be treated like Jesus.
Regardless of what I think I deserve, He wants my sins.
He’s my only hope for redemption.
Your greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion, or your focus. You’re greatest challenge is believing the gospel.
Could it be, that there is God with a love is so scandalous, so wide, so deep, so vast, so high, so expansive, so welcoming so inclusive?
God looks at us and says, “Let me have your sins, child. You stand forgiven.”
I’m free. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Thank you Jesus for taking my chains, for setting me free, and for being treated as I deserve. Help remind me of your love and your grace, during the times I try and step back up on the podium with you and Pilot. Continue to reveal yourself to me when I try to take back my chains. Remind me of your gospel when I forget what it looks like. Make your voice of truth louder than my excuses, and your love evident in my life. Thank you for doing the unthinkable. I am forever grateful.