READ: LUKE 23:13-25
Barabbas was a notorious prisoner under the jurisdiction of the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. He was a man who was part of a rebellion against the ruling authority of the Roman government, whom many Jews wanted to be free from. He was arrested, not only for being a part of the insurrection against Roman rule but of murder. Barabbas, hating the enslavement of Roman rule, was guilty of rebelling against the government and murder. It is possible that Barabbas was a Zealot, part of the political movement that rebelled against the Roman Empire to remove them from the Holy Land through physical force, riots, and violence. Barabbas was guilty and was a criminal.
Jesus was also a prisoner under the rule of Pontius Pilate. His accusers accused Him of blasphemy and stirring up trouble. Jesus did not belong here; it was unjust to arrest the One who was innocent. Even Pontius Pilate said that he found no fault or reason to punish Jesus; Pilate saw no threat or wrongdoing. He was right, for the man who stood before Pilate was not just any man, but God in the flesh. Jesus was holy and never sinned.
Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus, “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Whatever you have been tempted with in life, is the same Jesus was tempted with. If you have been tempted to curse, tempted to lie and cheat, tempted to lust, tempted to get back at someone, tempted to prove yourself, tempted to dishonor your parents, tempted to give up, or tempted to be selfish, Jesus experienced it. The difference is that Jesus never gave into temptation, but stayed holy, pure, and righteous.
During the feast of Passover, the governor made it a custom to release one prisoner to the Jews whom they wished. Pilate found no fault in Jesus, so he was surprised that the multitude cried out, “Crucify Him!” to Jesus. Pilate tried appeasing the crowd and brought Jesus to be scourged (whipped repeatedly) and then to release Him. The crowd wanted none of it, and in fear of an uprising among the crowd, Pilate released the guilty prisoner and ordered the innocent one to be punished by crucifixion.
Barabbas deserved to be crucified and face the penalty of his wrongdoing, but he was let go. He was set free. Jesus did not deserve any punishment, but He became guilty and paid the price as the one who did wrong. The sinful one received mercy because the innocent one paid the price. Jesus took the place of Barabbas; He suffered and died so that Barabbas could be free.
All have sinned, and the penalty for sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Jesus loves you so much that He chose to be your substitute. Jesus took on your sin, your guilt, and your shame so that you can be free from sin’s penalty and power. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Christ).” As the perfect substitute, Jesus took your sin so that you can receive His righteousness.
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