We see the story of Jesus going to the cross, and everything seems to be kind of hand in hand, and there’ this one character that seems to interrupt a little. His name is Barabbas. We don’t even know much about him, except that he’s a murderer, the leader of an insurrection and a rebel. Why he’s even mentioned - sometimes I’m not so sure. It’s like ‘This is about Jesus going to the cross..’ but no, it’s a love story.
So in this moment, pilate thinks ‘I hold the destinies of these two men in my hands. I know the Jews have a tradition that on a holy day - I will release one of the prisoners on death row.’ Pilate stands on this audacious stage who now presents Jesus, son of God - verses Barabbas the thug and rebel. And says ‘Alright, who do you want?’ This is blasphemy, this is gone too far, there’s no comparison, this is a rightful prisoner, a man who should be on death row. He is a rebel against wrong, and he is a bad man, a thug and a crook. He deserves the chains, and he deserves the crucifixion. Jesus? What has He done but heal, restore, deliver, set free, open blind eyes, and open deaf ears, heal the lame and the leper… What has Jesus done? Who do you want?’ —— We want Barabbas, give us Barabbas.
They say ‘Give us Barabbas’ and the soldiers come up and they put the key in they take his chains, and unlock Barabbas from his chains and shackles, and he walks down the platform. Welcomed by all of his thug friends. “Yeah, the people love me, the people love me. I don’t even know who this Jesus guy is, but all I know is my people love me.” There seems to be no conscience in Barabbas. There’s no record of him turning to Jesus and saying “I owe You everything now, for You have set me free.” No. You don’t see any of that in Barabbas. God knew that.
Jesus stood there silent. For He knew the will of His Father, and He said “It’s fine Father, let them have Barabbas.” For Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas, so He could treat Barabbas like Jesus. Barabbas thought it was the people that set him free… No, it was the love of of a heavenly Father. And when I look at the story, I realise who Barabbas really is. That’s me. That’s you. That’s us. And I felt like I was reading this the other day, and I felt God speak to me “I love Barabbas.. I love him..” And I wrestled a little ‘But God, he is a bad man..’ “I love him.. and I wanted him to go free.” ‘But didn’t you know that he probably would have never acknowledged the free gif-’ “Yeah… But I love Barabbas..”
"For while we were still sinners Christ died for us." God sent His Son for Barabbas, even the one He knew would walk away from Jesus and His free gift, and never come back… He loves Him. And the nerve, all the audacity of the believers to think "I got saved by grace, but now that I’m in this deep, dark place of bondage, I better work hard to get myself out..’ WHAT?! That’s the opposite of the gospel. Are you bound? Are you held under the power of this temptation and sin? Do you feel like it’s controlling you? What are you going to do? ‘Oh I’m going to shake and set myself free’… STOP IT. NO YOU WONT. YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR THE POWERS OF HELL, AND THE URGES OF SIN. YOU WILL NOT OVERCOME IT AND YOU’LL NEVER OVERCOME IT. YOU’LL JUST BE ANOTHER STATISTIC. There’s no answer within yourself. Your own goodness, your own discipline, your own devotion will not save you. There’s only One that can save you. and He’s the One that took your place.
He’s the one that stood on the platform with pilate and said “Yes, let them have Barabbas … Take Me.” How many times have I stood on that platform with pilate and Jesus and I’m the Barabbas. And they start to take my chains off and I say ‘NO! NO! I DESERVE THIS. I DESERVE THE GUILT, I DESERVE THE SHAME, I DESERVE THE CONSEQUENCE. I DESERVE IT.’ And Jesus seems to look at me and say “NO child, let Me have it. Let Me have your sin, let Me have your pain.” and I say ‘No God I did it to myself… I deserve it. I deserve it all.’ —- “NO!” God I’m so ashamed..He says “Give Me your shame…” But God, what if I do it again? He says “I’ll still be here…” Oh God I don’t want to hurt You, I love You, I don’t want to do this anymore.. He says “Everything will be alright, just give Me your sins…”
This is all we have, this is all I have and this is all you have. We can play games, we can play church games. We can pretend like some people are better than others, and that’s why they’re blessed. Or we can all come to the honest conclusion that it’s God, and it’s God alone. The greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion or your focus. Your greatest challenge is believing and living the Gospel. Could it be that there’s a God with a love so scandalous, so wide, so deep, so vast, so high, so expansive, so welcoming and so inclusive…? “Let Me have your sin, My Child.” ….. and I give Him my sin, and I stand in this empty space of forgiveness and acceptance while Jesus walks off to the cross that I deserve. I see Him, I see Him walking to the post to be whipped. As I stand a free child, all the attention is turned now; and I feel the love of God saying “Go My child, live your life! I’ll pay the price..” Where did we get off thinking that we were going to set ourselves free? It’s still Jesus, It’ll always be Jesus and it’ll never stop being the power of Jesus. His blood is sufficient for your salvation. His blood is sufficient to sustain you, through every sin, and every challenge and every temptation.
Jesus is enough.
As image-bearers of God and disciples of Christ, we each reflect aspects of His character in different ways. Christ champions our individuality, our uniqueness and our personal qualities and uses them to point people towards His kingdom. Comparing your witness and influence to that of your brothers or sisters is like comparing a telephone to a car. Of course, both are highly useful and important in life; but neither find their value in their comparison to one another, but rather, their worth comes from doing what they are created by their Maker and Authenticator to do… So don’t be defined by those around you, but be defined by Him who made you.