Summary: Jesus exchanged His life for yours so your life can be changed. Includes a first-person narrative by Barabbas.
The Great Exchange
Rev. Brian Bill
April 15-16, 2107
An exchange is when you give one thing and receive another in return. The Great Exchange has everything to do with Easter…with our existence…and with our eternity.
I experienced what an exchange is all about this week when something that was pretty bad turned into a pretty good deal. In an effort to help my wife Beth on Monday morning I pulled out the crock-pot, added two packages of stew meat, onions, cream of mushroom soup and some seasoning and hit “go.” I was pretty proud of my efforts. Beth had to work Monday night so this super stew was slated to be supper for Megan and me.
When it was time to serve the stew I gently poured it over some steaming rice. It was then that I noticed a large black piece of slimly absorbent plastic that was half-melted in the stew [Hold up – it looked something like this].
I set it aside, thinking we could just ignore it and eat our savory stew. When we sat down at the table, we prayed and then, just before we picked up our forks, I told Megan that we had to throw it away [that was a quick answer to prayer, wasn’t it?] I explained that this piece of plastic had come from the packaging and had simmered with the stew all day, spewing toxins into our tasty supper.
We decided to exchange our stew for a fast food drive-through. After we placed our order and pulled up to the window, the employee told us that their computer system had crashed. After waiting for a while, I turned to Megan and told her that I thought they were going to give us free food. Sure enough, because of their snafu, our meals were free.
After we ate, I remembered I had a “buy one, get one” coupon for Orange Leaf, so we filled our cups to overflowing with froyo and a ton of toppings. When it came time to pay, I gave them my frequent flier card and the manager told me that I had enough credits so our desserts were free! Then on Thursday, I was in Panera working on the sermon, and an Edgewood member came up to me and gave me a gift card, which allowed me to have lunch for free!
What started out bad turned out pretty good, wouldn’t you say? As I was contemplating the exchanges that had taken place, I realized that this was an opportunity for Megan and I to have a significant spiritual conversation. I was already thinking about how we got some free food in exchange for my toxic concoction and how that was like what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Looking forward to a deep theological discussion, I turned to Megan and asked, “What do you think the principle is that we learned tonight?” Her response was quick, “Never let dad make dinner?”
As a way to help us ponder the principle of exchange, I want us to imagine that my name is not Brian, but Barabbas. Barabbas is mentioned by name in all four gospels, occupying 38 verses, which is more space than what is given to Judas. Much of what I’m going to share reflects what is found in the 15th chapter of Mark.
Here’s the main idea for the message: Jesus exchanged His life for yours so your life can be changed.
I’ll come back out of character and become Brian in a few minutes.
I am Barabbas. My name “Bar-Abba,” literally means, “son of the father.” I don’t think my dad was ever delighted in me because I came out of the womb at war with the world. I rebelled against the authority of my parents and when I got older I revolted against the authority of Rome. I guess you make your choices in life…and then your choices make you.
I preferred to call myself a freedom fighter but your gospels refer to me as a notorious insurrectionist, a reprobate rebel and a robber. John called me a bandit…I like the sound of that. I was actually an outlaw and a murderer though I favored the term terrorist because it always made people afraid of me. I liked watching crowds cringe with fear when I showed up. To help you relate, there’s not much difference between me and Osama Bin Laden or Bashar al-Assad or the worst ISIS terrorist you could imagine.
My proudest moment was when I helped ignite an insurrection against Rome. Things were going pretty well until the Roman militia showed up. I had somehow avoided capture, knowing that if I were ever arrested I would face the death penalty, not to mention extreme torture and mistreatment.