Summary: Like Barabbas we are worhty of God’s death sentence; but we, the rebels, are released, and Jesus is suffers our hell on the cross in our place as our Substitute.
Walk with our Substitute
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit touches our hearts is record in Mark 15:
Now, at every festival Pilate used to free a prisoner whom the people asked for. There was a man by the name of Barabbas. He was in prison with the rebels who in their revolt had committed a murder. And the crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them as he had done before. Pilate answered them by asking, “Do you want me to free the King of the Jews for you?” He knew the ruling priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous.
The ruling priests stirred up the people to get him to free Barabbas for them instead.
Now, what should I do with him you call the King of the Jews?” Pilate again asked them.
Then they yelled all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Then Pilate, wanting to satisfy the people, freed Barabbas for them, but Jesus he whipped and handed over to be crucified. .(Mark 15:6-15 An American Translation (AAT))
This is the the word of our Lord.
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
Pontius Pilate was not known for his ethical behavior. He was in charge of keeping order in this unruly province of Judea and Samaria. And he wasn’t afraid to use force to do so. For instance, the Bible tells us that during Jesus ministry Pilate had some Galileans killed even while they were offering sacrifices at the temple (Luke 13:1). And from history we learn that Pilate was recalled to Rome when he had many Samaritans massacred at the foot of Mt. Gerizim in A.D. 37.
Yet even this Pilate released that Jesus was innocent. Yet he did not have the moral strength to make the right decision if it might cost him political points. As the judge he could have found Jesus innocent and ordered his release. As the Roman commander he could have enforced that decision and disbursed the crowd with a cohort of Roman soldiers. But that might worsen his relationship with Jewish council and people and bring him headaches and rebellion later on.
How could he let Jesus go and keep the people happy? He thought he had the perfect plan when the people asked him to release a prisoner according to what was customary at the Passover festival. He gave the people a choice that he thought would be a “no-brainer.” Should he release the rebel Barabbas, who was a public menace not only for rebellion but also for murder? Or should he release Jesus, whom many of the Jews at one time considered to be their king? Now after the crowd asked for Jesus, Pilate figured that he’d have it made. The people would be happy and the chief priests wouldn’t be able blame him. He had simply done what the people asked.
How taken back Pilate must have been when the crowd asked for Barabbas instead of Jesus! Yet although Pilate’s plan didn’t work out as he wanted it to, we see Pilate unknowingly illustrating a great Bible truth for us. The truth of substitution. Barabbas was released and Jesus was substituted in his place.
Tonight was we walk with our Savior in his passion, we walk with our Substitute. We see that the rebel is released instead and that the Christ is crucified for all. Why? Because he is the Substitute
1) The rebel is released instead
On that first Good Friday, Barabbas, was the rebel released instead of Jesus. He certainly deserved death. He not only had rebelled against the state; in that rebellion he had committed murder. Either crime is justly punishable by death.
But Barabbas, the rebel, goes free. Jesus takes his place.
Barabbas was not the only rebel released because of the events on that first Good Friday. You and I stood there as well. Like Barabbas we were rebels. We weren’t simply rebels against the government. We were rebels against God, against our Creator. From the moment we began life, we were hostile against God (Romans 8:7). We fought against his will. We forged our own chains of death and darkness. That’s what are rebellion earned us.
And still today we engage in rebellious activity. Even though God’s free grace has adopted us by giving us his Holy Spirit through baptism and his word, even though we are God’s children through faith in Jesus, we still commit rebellion against God. That’s what sin is. So often we fail to see what sin really is. We like to down-play sin or excuse it with thoughts like, “Everyone is doing it; no one got hurt; that’s just the way I am, I can’t help it.” But any sin, no matter how small or how hidden, any sin is rebellion against God. Do you think about that when you sin?