Holy Saturday, 40th day of Lent
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[b] Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
There is perhaps no character more like us in the story of the crucifixion than Barabbas. Lined up for a certain death sentence, Barabbas was suddenly pulled from his jail cell and hauled out in front of a Jewish mob to give them a choice. Choose to set free one of the following: Jesus or Barabbas.
Now there’s an interesting contrast: Jesus, the peaceful, loving teacher who was at worst guilty of claiming to be the Son of God (which He was); and Barabbas, the violent, murderous leader of an insurrection against the Roman forces in Jerusalem. That shouldn’t have been much of a choice. But the religious powers in the city worked diligently to sway the crowd in the criminal’s favor, and Barabbas walked free. Jesus literally died in his place that day.
So often, I’ve thought, what must it have felt like to be Barabbas. But one day it occurred to me that I do know what it feels like to be that criminal – because I am that criminal. Without Jesus, I stand guilty of every crime imaginable. I deserve a criminal’s death, but instead, Jesus died in my place.
There’s no way of knowing if Barabbas truly accepted the sacrifice that Christ paid on his behalf. But you and I know the rest of the story. We know that today, as we remember Jesus lying dead in the tomb, that tomorrow will bring a much different chapter. We know that His death gives us the opportunity lay our sins at the foot of the cross. And we know that His imminent resurrection gives us hope for an eternity with Him in Heaven.
Today, thank the Lord for His sacrifice, and ask Him to reveal to you what it’s truly like to be Barabbas. If you haven’t accepted Him as your Savior, today would be a perfect time to do that. And ask Him to give you an expectant heart that can truly worship Him tomorrow on a glorious Easter Day.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.