With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) — Luke 23:14–19
Rebel and murderer. Anger in his heart and blood on his hands. Defiant. Violent. A troublemaker. A life taker. He is guilty and proud of it. Is Pilate, the Roman governor, supposed to treat such a man with grace? The crowd thinks so. Moreover, they want Pilate to execute Jesus instead, a man whom Pilate declares has “done nothing to deserve death.”
Jesus was God’s model of a human being. Ever honest among hypocrites. Relentlessly kind in a world of cruelty. Heaven-focused despite countless distractions. It’s not just that Jesus passed every test. He posted a perfect score on every test.
Can you imagine such a life? Can you say the same about yours? No mistakes? Never a rude comment? Not a single red mark on your essays? I can’t say that.
Unlike Jesus, we’re not faultless. We’re fault-filled. And right near the top is our desire to be in control. We want things our own way. Even when we try to do right, sooner or later we end up blowing it again. An insult slips off the tongue. A promise is put on the shelf. A relationship is fouled, a class failed. And God is left behind, forgotten more quickly than yesterday’s homework.
You and I are world-class rebels.
Where does it leave us? Stuck in the same cell with Barabbas. We’re like him. We are him. Sinners. Rebels. Murderers.
Am I overstating the case? I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter if we’ve literally killed someone. The point is that we are rebels against God. We shout, “God, I don’t want you to be my king! I want a kingless kingdom! Even better, a kingdom in which I am king!” We stage a revolution.
We storm God’s castle, put on His crown, and sit on His throne. We roar, “I want to run my own life, thank you very much!” We tell God to get out, get lost, and not come back. You and I are world-class rebels. So is every single person who has taken a breath.
The Bible puts it in plain language:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).
Your way may be ignoring homework, my way may be ignoring other people, another person’s way might be bragging or gossiping or drinking, but every person has tried to go his or her way without God.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10–12).
We won’t appreciate what grace does until we understand who we are. We are rebels. We have been found guilty. And we have nothing to offer in trade for our lives.
“You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.”
What just happened?
Christ took away your sins. Where did He take them? To the top of a hill called Calvary, where He endured not just the nails of the Romans, the mockery of the crowd, and the spear of the soldier but also the anger of God.
Fill your heart with this, the finest summary of God’s greatest accomplishment:
God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us. (Romans 3:24–25, emphasis mine)
God didn’t overlook your sins; He won’t endorse them. He didn’t punish you; He won’t destroy you. He instead found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner.
Jesus took your punishment, and God gave you credit for Jesus’ perfection.
As long as the cross is God’s gift to the world, it will touch you but not change you. Satisfying as it is to shout, “Christ died for the world!” even sweeter it is to whisper, “Christ died for me.”
“For my sins He died.”
“He took my place on the cross.”
“He carried my sins, my cold and cruel heart.”
“Through the cross He claimed, cleansed, and called me.”
“He felt my shame and spoke my name.”
Be the Barabbas who says, “Thank you.” Thank God for the day grace happened to you. Thank Jesus for giving His life for yours—the best trade you’ll ever make.
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Take a break and think about the punishment that was yours to pay until Jesus paid it. Now, spend a few minutes thanking Him as one who is in need of grace! What is your response to Jesus’ sacrifice, not just for the whole world, but for you personally? Please leave a comment on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily