A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Note: This week we are considering witnesses during the events of Holy Week that may seem rather incidental to the main story, but like each one of us, they also have a story.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Message summary: What was done to Jesus should have been done to Barabbas—and to each of us. We can all rightly declare, "I should have been crucified." But Jesus, God's Son, took my place! Today, let us live with renewed commitment to this marvelous Savior and reaffirm our faith in Christ, who was crucified for us!
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"Then he (Pilate) released Barabbas to them" (Matthew 27:26). "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified" (Mark 15:15). But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” (Luke 23:18). “Not this man, but Barabbas” (John 18:40).
As you get older there are more and more once new songs that are now old songs. When we were young Christians back in the seventies we were blessed by a song with the intriguing title, "I Should Have Been Crucified" written and sung by Gordon Jensen. The song is enjoying a resurgence by various Southern Gospel artists, and once again the words speak directly to our hearts.
The lyrics bring about a great message about the Biblical doctrine of substitutionary atonement. But only one person in history could have sung or spoken that message in a literal sense; Barabbas, who was released from prison in exchange for Christ who took his place. Throughout the remainder of his life Barrabas could have said, "I should have been crucified", and perhaps he did.
I should have been crucified,
I should have suffered and died.
I should have hung on the cross in disgrace,
But Jesus, God’s Son, took my place.
The Scriptures tell us very little about Barabbas and nothing about what became of him following his brief appearance in the Gospels as Christ's substitute. He was a "notorious prisoner" (Matthew 27:16) who had been involved in murder and sedition (Luke 23:19). John 18:40 reports that he had taken part in a rebellion so in Roman law he deserved to die.
But he was released at the trial of Jesus, as the crowd clamored, "No, not him. Give us Barabbas!" I wonder what ran through his thoughts when he heard the crowd's demands?
Since he was in the city it's not unreasonable to assume that he witnessed the crucifixion, or at least the events leading up to it. What did this murderer think? When he was sitting powerless in the prison day after day, surely his mind had traveled numerous times to the place of execution where he would soon receive the death penalty for his sins.
What kind of emotions welled up within him as he witnessed Christ taking his place? Was his heart changed after seeing an innocent man die in place of a guilty man who was now set free? Did he eventually turn to the Lord who had become his literal physical substitute on the cross?* Heaven will have many of "the rest of the stories" that we've only been privy to in a few chapters here on earth!
Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse writes these thoughts concerning Barabbas: "He was the only man in the world who could say that Jesus Christ took his physical place. But I can say that Jesus Christ took my spiritual place. For it was I who deserved to die. It was I who deserved that the wrath of God should be poured on me. I deserved the eternal punishment of the lake of fire. He was delivered up for my offenses. He was handed over to judgment because of my sins -- Christ was my substitute. He was satisfying the debt of divine justice and holiness. That is why I say that Christianity can be expressed in the three phrases: I deserved hell; Jesus took my hell; there is nothing left for me but His heaven."
In several ways Barabbas is a type of the redeemed through all the ages.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, thank You for dying in my place on the cross! Just like Barabbas, I am the truly guilty and You are the sinless One who demonstrated Your own love for me when You died for me while I was dead in my trespasses and sins. Just as You were lifted up on the cross, and just as You were raised up from the dead, You lifted the weight of sin from my guilt-ridden shoulders when I turned to You in forgiveness. Not only did You pay off my sin debt but the incredible, unearned bonus is that You also gave me the gift of eternal life. I am amazed when I consider Your extraordinary love for me. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.
Here's a powerful nugget of additional insight on Barabbas in an article by James M. Boice, who in turn also quotes Donald Grey Barnhouse:
It was customary to free a prisoner at the time of the Feast of Passover. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" Pilate asked the crowd (Matt. 27:21). "He was astonished when the people replied, "Barabbas!"
Barnhouse pictures Barabbas sitting in the prison, staring at his hands, which were soon to be pierced by nails, and shuddering at any sound of hammering that might remind him with horror of his own impending crucifixion. Suddenly he hears a crowd roaring outside the prison. There are angry voices. "Crucify him! Crucify him!" He thinks he hears his own name.
Then a jailer comes to unlock the door of his cell. Barabbas thinks that the time for his execution has come, but instead the jailer tells him that he is being set free. The crowd has called for his release. Jesus of Nazareth is to die instead.
Stunned, Barabbas joins the processional that is making its way to Calvary and watches as Jesus is crucified. He hears the sound of the hammer and knows that the blows that are fastening Jesus to the rough wooden cross were meant for him. He sees the cross lifted high into place and knows that he is the one who should be dying on it.
Jesus cries, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). The centurion who has commanded the execution party exclaims, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39).
Barabbas must have been saying, "That man took my place. I am the one who should have died. I am the condemned murderer. That man did nothing wrong. He is dying for me."
* A very interesting work of fiction concerning Barabbas has been written. It was also made into a movie conjecturing that he eventually became a Christian.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Barabbas Video (3:30 minutes) The Skit Guys
We all know what happens to Jesus after the crowd chooses him for crucifixion. But rarely do we consider what happened to Barabbas. Watch this interpretation of what Barabbas must have been contending with.
"I Should Have Been Crucified" Video Gordon Jensen Gordon has a somewhat gruff vocal sound that is quite distinguished when he sings, inspiring all who listen.
"I Love You From An Old Rugged Cross" Video Daywind Choir
Yesterday we shared our very first Zoom devotional with a group of home-bound employees.
Major Events of the Passion Week
An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four gospels cover the period beginning with Christ's Triumphal Entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the Gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.
Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place as I read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.
Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46
Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew. 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47
Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6
The Last Supper: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room: John 13-17
Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12
Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline provided in the Life Application Bible.)
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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