My pastor has spent the last two years going through the gospel of Luke, verse by verse. I know it's taken a long time, but the wait has been worth it. It seems like every Sunday morning is another drink from the fire hydrant of truth, and last Sunday was no different.
We're well into chapter 23, when He starts talking of Jesus' passion week before Pontius Pilate. It was incredible. He told the story of Barabbas, as the crowd violently demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, and I don't know what it was, but something just really struck a chord with me.
Imagine this man Barabbas (Whose first name was also JESUS) sitting in a cold dark cell, chained to the walls or the floor. He's been in prison for the attempted overthrow of the Roman government, and in effect, he's on death row awaiting his capital punishment.
The prison is on the other side of the courtyard from Jesus' public trial with Pilate, and so Barabbas had no idea what was going on outside the walls of his tiny little prison.
All of the sudden He hears the commotion from outside. Jesus made his way up to the stage with Pilate, and was undergoing the most un-just trial in human history. The Jews were set on disposing of this blasphemer called Jesus, and the Romans had no idea how to handle the uncomfortable political situation between the Jews and Caesar.
All of the sudden Pilate asks in a loud but subtle voice, "Who should I release to you? Jesus who is called the Christ of Barabbas?" One of the greatest set up questions of Pilate's career no doubt. For Barabbas was a known terrorist, and this Christ was the one who had been feeding people and healing them.
Barabbas hears the crowd scream, "Barabbas. We want Barabbas."
His heart begins to beat faster because he knows it is traditional to let a prisoner go at passover, so he's feeling pretty good about the situation.
Pilate asks, "So what shall I do with this Jesus."
And all Barabbas hears is a massive crowd yell, "CRUCIFY HIM!"
The guards have made their way to unlock him from his cell for release, but Barabbas must have been thinking, "this is it. I'm off to the hill."
Then, as he walked by the bloodied Christ, Pilate unshackles him and declares him free to go.
What a scene.
Can you imagine the man who knew he deserved death, marching to what was certainly his last breath, all of the sudden released?
Why would Barabbas take the walk?
Only because Jesus, the Son of God, took His payment away on the first day of Jesus' redemptive story. Barabbas was the first person who deserved death, who actually got to walk.
I was blown away thinking about this story. I was humbled beyond myself on Sunday. I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas. We are the collective Barabbas.
And we walk free…
May we keep our eyes on Jesus, the provider of our Redemption, and the author of our new kingdom world. A world where the guilty prisoners walk free in the light of His goodness.