Luke 23: Taking the Place of Barabbas
13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examinedHim in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him;[c] and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him”17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).[d]
18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.
20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them.21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”
23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.[e] 24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them[f] the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Barabbas was the very first to receive the grace of the New Covenant; Jesus was already bleeding from the beatings he suffered at the hands of the Romans, and in so doing took the place that rightfully belonged to a rebellious murderer looking out for none but himself. A man in whom there was evil, a man who was worthy of death for putting others to death.
Did not the law say, “An eye for an eye”…?
And yet, as Paul reminds us, the battle between flesh and spirit is lifelong. Were we able to overcome it, Christ’s death and resurrection serve no purpose in our deliverance, redemption, and reconciliation.
The religious leaders had taken their eyes off things above long ago, and challenged our Lord on every turn, though he loved on them even in His righteous rebuking, trying to get them to see and understand, since they claimed to know.
Yet He said their sin was greater because they claimed to see, and even when Pilate’s sense of justice would prevail, they shouted him down.
Barabbas, being no one of prominence, posed no threat to the status quo. Indeed he might have remained grateful to the Pharisees for the rest of his lowly life, though Jesus died for him too.
Three times, one for each day He was entombed, Pilate said he found no fault in Jesus, and wanted to let Him go,
I wonder if Jesus dared feel a flicker of hope, as He’d asked the Father to take the cup.
It was too late though, the damage was done; the Pharisees hatred for the Son of G-d ran deeper than their love of the Father, if indeed they ever had any.
Pharisaical motives notwithstanding, we are all striving for the kingdom of G-d;. The Messiah tells us it accomplishes nothing for a man to hold onto the world and lose his soul.
Barrabas, receiving grace freely, had none in him for Jesus.
We are rebellious murderers with sinful deeds great and small, grieving the heart of our Lord and severing the ties of our fellowship with Him and each other.
Churches have been destroyed from within by people like Barrabas.
Yet we go on, the soldiers of the Army of the Lord, planning rebellions and turning away from authority.
.Under the banner of Our Lord’s Grace, we shout for the thief in us to be released
not only because we know him, but because we are him.
Let us always remember that if we are no threat to the Devil’s rule, we are of no use to the kingdom of G-d.
Therefore I pray:
You looked on Your servant with compassion when he failed You at the very moment You needed him.
You saw Your friends run after swearing oaths of loyalty to protect You.
You watched Barabass take his leave from Pilate’s stage and go home, as if he’d just gotten the better of You.
You see Your worshipper’s daily failings, and I wonder if You ever regretted taking the path you followed.
Were we worth the pain and suffering?
Were we worth the horror of those tortures?
I pray that we achieve worthiness, for we are not there now.
I would place no more burdens on You, Lord Jesus. There will be enough for several lifetimes, but you deal in eternity, and tell me there will be no more pain, sorrow, tears, doubt and guilt.
On that day, You tell us, we will not ask You anymore questions.
You invite me to take Your yoke, and walk the path.
It’s enough, and at Your word, I lay down my life.
Help me to be true to that, and take my place when I take up my own cross, to follow wherever You lead, no matter how dark.
Turn my shadowed heart toward Your glorified face, and replace it with a new one, for I know I am unlike Barabbas in this regard: I know my Redeemer lives.
By Your Name I ask in faith, believing I’ve received.