Summary: Barabbas becomes a type of all mankind under the sentence of death. A sermon for Easter
There was a man in Palestine who appeared on history’s scene just briefly, then vanished again. We know very little about him, except that he was arrested by Roman authorities for insurrection (which is rebellion against a government authority), and murder. Now it is probably fairly safe to assume that the murder he was charged with was the killing of a Roman soldier during his act of revolt. So some would say that this was not murder, but an act of war. A courageous rebellion against the foreign invader that had oppressed his people and his nation.
Whether we condemn or justify his actions however, he was found by the governing authorities to be guilty , and he was sentenced to die. Since this was first century Palestine, occupied by the Romans and therefore under Roman law, his manner of death was to be crucifixion.
The interesting thing, and truly the only reason we know his name at all, is that Barabbas (name meaning “son of the father”) was scheduled to die on the same day that Jesus of Nazareth was arrested and tried and condemned to death; and when the paths of Barabbas, son of the father and Jesus Christ, Son of the Father crossed, the changes that took place in the life of Barabbas painted a picture of all mankind under sin and the sentence of death, and provided a valid and vital message for all who would come after to learn from.
Today I want to talk to you about the Gospel, according to Barabbas.
First please read Matthew 27:15-26
As I said a minute ago, Barabbas becomes for us a type of all mankind under condemnation of sin. So let’s approach his story this way today:
BARABBAS GUILTY, BARABBAS UNDER THE SENTENCE OF DEATH, BARABBAS SUBSTITUTED and BARABBAS MADE NEW
I’ll never forget David F. When I was a police officer, David F was one of the most confusing characters I ever ran across, yet this young man taught me some valuable lessons about human nature.
David F was either the best liar I’ve ever met, or he was so entirely self-deceived that even he believed his lies which gave him the ability to plead his own case so convincingly.
The first time I encountered him, it was as a teenager, in his torn up bedroom. His parents had sent him to his room for some domestic infraction, and he proceeded to tear that room to pieces, so they called the police. When I talked with David he denied having committed the initial infraction, he denied tearing up his room (this while sitting on his bed between shattered guitar and smashed tennis racket), and he denied that he had been involved in any confrontation with his parents whatsoever. So the only avenue open to me, was to warn him to settle down and obey his parents, and leave the house.
As the next several years ticked on, I arrested David for theft, for auto burglary, and on a warrant for failure to appear in court. Each time I came in contact with Mr. F his lies were so convincing that if I hadn’t the evidence sitting right there in front of me...AND in front of him...I might have believed in his innocence myself.
The last contact I had with this boy, was after he and two friends stole a car, then drove it off a mountain road, totaling the car and requiring hospitalization for the three of them. When I went to see him at the emergency room, while the deep cuts on his head were being stitched, he, with wide-eyed innocence, denied any involvement in the theft of the vehicle, or even having been in it. He couldn’t explain his injuries.
While there are not many people who are such polished and accomplished liars, the vast majority of mankind without Christ is as deeply in denial concerning their guilt before God, as David F was concerning his crimes.
Romans 1:18 says that they ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness’. In that particular context, they are suppressing the general knowledge of the existence of God within them. But the same sin nature that suppresses that truth, also suppresses the truth of their own guilt before a holy God.
I John 1:8 says “if we say we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”.
But although men deny their guilt, their guilt remains, nonetheless.
To God, man’s denial of sin is as ridiculous as Mr. F’s denials were to me. God can see the blackness of our sin. God can see our sin like leper’s spots, eating us away and keeping us spiritually dead. And while He looks on our pathetic little cancer-ridden souls, writhing in the agony of demonic influence, with wide-eyed innocence we insist that everything is A-OK, and deceive no one but ourselves.