Thursday, February 12, 2015


So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.  (Mark 15:15)

Imagine your car stalled on railroad tracks.  A train is bearing down; death is imminent.  Then a big football player, has you shift into neutral, and with every ounce of strength he has, gives a mighty push and your car just gets off the tracks.  It is too late for him, however—he dies in your place.  Can you imagine the gratitude you would feel?  You would do anything in your power for his family, after the sacrifice he made for you.

Judgment was coming like a speeding locomotive for sinners like us.  We faced more than physical death; we were destined for the second death, which is the Lake of Fire.  What did Jesus do?  He died in our place!  How we ought to be overwhelmed with praise for such love, and do all we can for His family—the church!  The story of Barabbas illustrates this great spiritual truth.

The Gospel writer tells us that Barabbas was in prison (Mark 15:6-7), and deservedly so.  He was a criminal—a notorious one.  Barabbas was a zealot, a fanatic, an extremist.  We would liken him to Islamic terrorists today who commit violent acts to achieve political ends.  He would have been on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list had he lived in our era.  When I look into the mirror, I see Barabbas looking back.  As he defied the authority of Rome, I have rebelled against the King of Heaven.  Because we have committed such evils, we are now in prison to sin’s bondage.  The day of reckoning looms.

Barabbas was on death row.  Three crosses had been erected for the pubic execution of him and two co-conspirators.  Being the ringleader, the middle cross was his.  Can you picture the condemned man the night before his death, looking at his hands, and rubbing his wrists, as he thinks about the iron spikes that will be driven through his flesh the next day?  When he drifts off into a fitful sleep, he is suddenly awakened by the clanging of s metal door being shut elsewhere in the prison.  He jumps, breaks into a cold sweat—it sounds like a hammer ringing down on metal nails!  The dawn of his death day comes—a bloody red glow spreading across the horizon.  How apropos!  Then, he listens at the sound of a mob gathering together—they are coming to watch the spectacle.  He himself had witnessed the brutality of crucifixion, and now others would gawk at his naked body pinned on the tree.  From the distance, he hears voices—a lone man, the Roman governor is speaking, but he cannot make out the words.  Then the crowd erupts into a shout—they are calling his name!  “Barabbas!  Barabbas!” Then a brief interlude—the low hum of Pontius Pilate’s voice, again indistinguishable from the distance.  There is no mistaking the next words—they are screaming, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  Next, the hob nailed boots of his executioners echo down the corridor, growing closer and closer, louder and louder—he thinks they are coming to take him away, but when they open the cell door—he cannot believe his ears—they say, “Get out!  Jesus is dying in your place!”

Scripture says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God….” (1 Pet.3:18a)  He died in my place.  I am Barabbas.

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