Jump Start # 3200
Mark 15:11 “But the chief priests stirred up the multitude to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead.”
Our verse today takes place as Jesus stands before Pilate. Time and again, Jesus is declared to be innocent. The trial was fake. The charges were made up. The witnesses were inconsistent and dishonest. Pilate understood that Jesus was innocent. The multitude was quickly turning into a mob. Pilate was concerned about his own status with Rome and his future. Bowing under pressure, Pilate released a murderer and sentenced the innocent Jesus to His death. The Jews thought they had a victory. But Scriptures show otherwise, when up from the grave He arose.
There are some interesting comparisons between Jesus and Barabbas. The best of the best and the worst of the worse.
First, the death of Jesus was always intended to be a substitute for others. The cross was meant for Barabbas. He was the guilty one. He was the one deserving death. He was already in prison. Jesus’ death was a sacrifice and a substitute. The pure died for the guilty. Barabbas is called a thief, a murderer and one who caused insurrection. He was lawless. But the law finally caught up to him. He should have died on the cross.
Second, the death of Jesus allows others to live. The death of Jesus allowed Barabbas to live. It is very likely that Barabbas should have been on that cross. Instead, Jesus was. And, by His dying, Barabbas was given another day. Barabbas was given another chance. Barabbas lived because Jesus died.
Third, the death of Jesus granted freedom. Not only was Barabbas allowed to live another day, but he was released from prison. Because of Jesus’ death, Barabbas was a free man. He could go where he wanted to. He could continue a life of crime or this could be the opportunity to turn his life around. The death of Jesus does the same for us. It breaks the death grip that Satan has on us. It allows us to be free from the prison of addictions. It opens the door so we can escape from fear and worry. Jesus died and Barabbas was released.
Fourth, the death of Jesus brought hope into the world. In the shoes of Barabbas, sitting in a prison, there wasn’t much to hope for. His days were numbered. He had been charged with treason, which is a strike against Rome. His death was certain. Hopeless and helpless, well describe the fate of Barabbas. The death of Jesus changed all of that. Hope came when the prison doors were opened and he was told to go. It was news that he could not dream of. It was better than he ever expected.
And, the death of Jesus has done the same for us. Forgiven. Accepted. Wanted. Loved. That’s what the Lord has done for us. What a mess we have made of things. How wrong we have been. And, until Jesus, there was no hope of ever getting out of that dark prison of doom.
I wonder, as the text of the Gospels unfolds, that Pilate asks who should be released. The crowds scream “Barabbas. Barabbas.” And, sitting in a prison not far away, he hears his name. Why are they shouting my name, he wonders. Then Pilate asks, what about Jesus? The crowds shout louder, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” Again, Barabbas only hears the shouts. He hears his name and then he hears “crucify, crucify.” Soldiers come to the prison and Barabbas believes this is it. They are taking me to the cross. I am going to be executed right now. But instead, the prison doors swing open and he is told to leave. “You are released.” Pilate has granted your freedom. You don’t understand. In an instant you have gone from terrible fear believing you are about to be executed, to now finding out you are free. You don’t ask questions. You don’t stick around for an explanation. You move quickly out of that prison cell. You are free and you want to go immediately.
Were the other two executed with Jesus, thieves we are told, part of Barabbas’ gang? Did he know those men? Did he stick around to watch their deaths? I doubt it. I expect he was running as fast as he could to get out of Jerusalem. He was to die, but now he lives. He was imprisoned, but now he is free. He had no hope, but now he has all hope.
The story of Barabbas is our story. We are Barabbas. Free, where do we turn? Given another chance, what do we do? Back to a life of crime? More wrong choices? More prison time? Or, do we find Jesus? Do we follow the Savior? Does our life change? Are we now Heaven Bound?
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.