Monday, June 10, 2024

Jesus Even Loved Barabbas

 But the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’
– Luke 23:10

Governor Pontius Pilate must have been baffled as the Jewish leaders called for the release of the biggest thug on Death Row.

When Pilate interrogated Jesus – twice – Pilate didn’t find Him to be guilty of any capital crime. But the religious leaders refused to accept Pilate’s verdict. So, Pilate thought he had a foolproof way to get them to agree to release Jesus. In John 18:39, he asked them, “It is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews [or Barabbas]?”

Pilate strategically chose one of the most notorious criminals who was scheduled to be crucified that day: Barabbas, a convicted murderer who had taken part in an uprising. No one with an ounce of decency would EVER vote for a terrorist to be released into the streets. But to Pilate’s astonishment, the crowd shouted back in unison: “Don’t release Jesus! Give us Barabbas!”

Given the choice, they chose the convicted terrorist over Jesus. There was no excuse for what they did. But, ultimately, it was God’s will. 

All four of the gospels tell about the crowd calling for Barabbas’s release. Interestingly, not a single gospel writer mentions Jesus objecting — because Jesus didn’t protest. He actually wanted them to choose Barabbas instead of Him – because Jesus loved Barabbas. How do I know that? Because of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Think about it: “For God so loved [Barabbas] that He gave His one and only Son.”

When Barabbas allowed Jesus to take his place on Death Row, that was unimaginably unjust and unfair. But, strangely, Jesus chose to die so that Barabbas could live. And I believe that if you had been in Barabbas’s shoes that day, Jesus would have taken your place on Death Row. Because of His great love for you, He would die so that you might live. 

As Barabbas walked free, Jesus showed Himself to be our substitute on Death Row. Over the course of our lives, every one of us has lied, cheated and stolen. Like Barabbas, we have sinned thousands of times and earned our place on Death Row. Hell is the just punishment for our sin. But Jesus took our place. He went through Hell so you and I wouldn’t have to. He died so that we could live. How, then, can we help but live for Him?

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.