The Easter sermon that I attend this year spotlighted faces from the crowd on crucifixion day. One of those faces was Barabbas. I have always judged him harshly as far worse of a person than me. I never knew how much we had in common.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
How am I like Barabbas?
1) I was a prisoner to sin. Romans 7: 21-23 says “21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
2) I deserved death and was sentenced to die. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
3) By no work of my own, Jesus took my place before I ever knew Him. 1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
4) I have freedom and life because of His action. John 3:16 “For whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Perhaps I’ve been too harsh on Barabbas for all these years. It seems that we have much more in common than I realized, and I am so thankful for this very concrete picture of salvation and grace through the death of Jesus. I’ll never read this part of the story the same way again.
Father God, may you open my eyes when I read the familiar to see what you want to show me. May I be ever listening and forever grateful for a savior who provided salvation for me before I ever knew Him. Amazing love. Amazing grace. Amen.