This afternoon’s sermon inspired a re-write of my post on Barabbas from a couple of years ago…
Imagine the footsteps approaching your cell. You’re on death row. Murder and insurrection aren’t charges that can be brushed under the carpet. You are Barabbas. One who deserves nothing good. Guilty as charged. You know what’s coming. ‘Dead man walking’ is surely going to be one of the last phrases you hear. And as the footsteps approach, you wonder if now is the time. Is now the moment you will pay the price for your crimes?
The key rattles noisily in the lock. The key turns and the door is swung open. Your jailer greets you with two words. Words that you will remember for the rest of your life.
We don’t know much about Barabbas. His appearance in the gospels is fleeting. Matthew tells us he was a well-known prisoner. Mark tells us he was with the rebels who had committed murder in an uprising. Luke tells us he was in prison for an insurrection and murder. John tells us he had taken part in an uprising. Barabbas was no angel.
His name simply means, ‘Son of the Father’. Barabbas. He was a bad man, who deserved nothing good.
On the day Barabbas was freed, another son was taken prisoner.
“You are My Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus. Son of The Father. A good man, who deserves nothing bad. His ministry has been love. His miracles; love. His relationships; love. His teaching; love. His prayer in the garden just a few hours ago; love. Love has brought Him to this place, to standing before the authorities. Love. There is no crime that has brought Him here. It is His love that brings Him to this place and His love that keeps Him here.
Barabbas was brought to trial because of his crimes. Jesus was brought to trial because of His love. Love for all.
Some people have suggested that Barabbas was about to be crucified. There are those who suggest that the cross that Jesus struggled to carry to His crucifixion was the cross that should have carried Barabbas. There are those who think that the exchange was Jesus’ freedom for Barabbas’ cross.
I don’t know about that. But one thing I do know is this:
That cross was mine.
I am Barabbas.