But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”
(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them:
“Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Luke 23v18-25 (NIV)
Lies for Truth. The Innocent charged and the Guilty freed. However you look at it, it's not fair and it's not right. But yet it was through this greatest act of love that we have been set free!
Jesus is clearly innocent. Leading up to these events, Pilate, the Roman governor had twice said: 'I find no basis for a charge against this man.' (verse 4, 14). Despite the crowds persistence Pilate, for now, remains unmoved: 'I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty.'
Barabbas is clearly guilty. So that we know exactly what kind of person he is, we are told: 'Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.' He is waiting the death penalty. But in an extraordinary event the innocent dies and the guilty lives! What's going on?
First, we cry out with the crowd 'Crucify Him!' The crowd are clear in their demands: 'Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!' They know Jesus is innocent but they want him dead: 'Crucify him! Crucify him!' Jesus had never done anything wrong. He had healed the sick, fed the hungry and raised the dead - so why such hatred for a good man? Well, Jesus was more than good, He was God in the flesh. The real reason was, they did not want Jesus ruling or making claims on their lives. And neither do we. Jesus as a good man we can live with, but Jesus as God who deserves our worship and our obedience - well we want rid of him, we want him dead! Every time we reject him, we shout with the crowd 'Crucify Him!'
Second, Jesus gives his life in exchange 'For Me!' Barabbas knows he is guilty, he knows he deserves the death penalty. He hears the crowd and their 'insistent demands that he be crucified'. He knows he will die a slow agonising death. But the cries of death are not for him but for Jesus. Caving under pressure Pilate: 'released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.' The innocent dies and the guilty lives. What happened? 'Jesus bore the guilt and shame and curse and disgrace and death that Barabbas deserved, while Barabbas received the release, the freedom, the life that Jesus deserved.' (McKinley).
That's what happened at the cross. Jesus gives his life in exchange for my death and I am set free!
Jesus is treated as I deserve to be treated, so that I might be treated as Jesus deserves to be treated. Through faith in Jesus I am set free from the weight of all my guilt. I have been released from the darkness of fear. This 'death bought' freedom means I can now enjoy life as a child of God - loved and treasured for all eternity.
Father God help me to take it all in, what Jesus achieved for me through his death. Thank you that this is no mistake but your loving plan in action. As I turn to you in faith help me to live and experience the life of a true child of God.