7 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Exodus 34:1–35:9
Matthew 27:15-31
Psalm 33:12-22
Proverbs 9:1-6

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Matthew 27:20-22 (CSB): “The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. The governor asked them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ ‘Barabbas!’ they answered. Pilate asked them, ‘What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?’ They all answered, ‘Crucify him!'”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

As we read through the story line and come across our Verses for Today, we may think that the story of Barabbas is simply incidental. We might think that it had no meaningful significance.

We would be wrong.

The words of our Verses for Today powerfully illustrate the Gospel!

As we read through Matthew 27, we realize that Pilate was trying to come up with a way to release Jesus. He knew that the only reason Jesus had been turned over to him was because of envy (Matthew 27:18). Pilate was not a good guy. He was a vicious tyrant. But, he wanted to release Jesus.

Pilate determined to present the Jews with an option. He would place Jesus and a wicked convict in front of the crowd. He would then say that the crowd could pick one of them to be released. Pilate was sure that the Jews would pick Jesus over Barabbas.

But that didn’t happen.

Matthew 27:20-22 (CSB): “The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. The governor asked them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ ‘Barabbas!’ they answered. Pilate asked them, ‘What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?’ They all answered, ‘Crucify him!'”

Barabbas was released and Jesus was crucified.

It was an utter injustice … but it was exactly what God had been doing since an innocent animal was killed for Adam and Eve’s transgression (Genesis 3:21). The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament demonstrated that the innocent could die in the place of the guilty.

When we arrive at the New Testament, it is made very clear that we stand guilty before a holy God. You, me, and everyone else – we are all worthy of being banished from God’s presence forever.

Romans 3:10-12 (CSB): “… There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.”

What is the punishment for the guilty? Death. Breaking God’s perfect Law is a capital offense.

Romans 6:23 (CSB): “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The punishment for our guilt is physical death (Adam and Eve could have lived forever until they sinned) and spiritual death (eternally separated from God’s blessed presence).

However, if you look back at Romans 6:23, you will see that sinners deserve death but God is offering the free gift of eternal life.

How can we get that? How can we be forgiven of our sin debt? How can we be made thoroughly pleasing to a holy God who despises sin and must punish sinners?

Simply put, someone must die in our place. While the Old Testament sacrificial system didn’t fully resolve the sin problem (it only temporarily fixed the problem by pushing them forward), those sins were ultimately pushed to the cross where the Lamb of God died to pay the sin debt of everyone who would trust in Him.

Jesus died as the substitute for the guilty so that the guilty may go free.

Isaiah 53:5-6 (CSB): “But he (Jesus) was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished him (Jesus) for the iniquity of us all.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB): “He (God) made the one (Jesus) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Peter 2:24 (CSB): “He himself (Jesus) bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his (Jesus) wounds you have been healed.”

Jesus died in the place of the guilty. He died so that we may go free. Just as the Old Testament prescribed a sacrificial system in which innocent lambs were killed in the place of the guilty sinner, so Jesus was the final and ultimate “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

This is illustrated in the picture of Pilate, presenting Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd. This is portrayed as the guilty Barabbas goes free and Jesus went to the cross. Jesus died so that the guilty may go free.

Friend, buckle your seat belt. I’m about to tell you something that may shock you.

You and I are Barabbas!

Just as Barabbas went free because Jesus was chosen to go to the cross and die, so every single person who places their trust in Jesus goes free because He went to the cross to die.

So, when you hear the crowd cry for Barabbas to be released, they didn’t realize it but they were portraying a powerful picture of the Gospel. They were demonstrating what God has been doing since the beginning of time. The guilty could go free because the innocent took the punishment.

How long has it been since you thanked Jesus for doing this for you?

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Screenshot from “The Passion of the Christ”