13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.’ [a]

18 But the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’ 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’

22 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.’

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 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 23: 13-25

David Pavey points out that Barabbas means “son of the father” and that his first name was assumed (as early as Origen) to be Jesus! He was a criminal – but on that first Good Friday Jesus died in his place. Barabbas was shown mercy and grace – he got what he did not deserve. He had the opportunity for a new beginning. I wonder whether he took it?

He also parallels this with the story of a French man in the Napoleonic war who succeeded in not being called up to serve in the army as another man had already gone in his place and died.

What about us? Like Barabbas we are a notorious criminal! We have done wrong and deserve the eternal consequences. But Jesus died in our place and we too – like Barabbas – have the opportunity for a new beginning. Once we were released we were no longer guilty – we can’t be rearrested for the same crimes. Can we say thank you? Can we say that we are going to take the opportunity for a new beginning?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5: 6-8.

These verses are the story of Barabbas and the storY of us – he and we were sinners and Christ died in our place – to give us a New Beginning.


15 MAY 2018

‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’

Luke 23:18 NIV

The Bible says: ‘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)’ (vv.18-19 NIV 1984 Edition). And just like Barabbas, we deserve to die for our sins. Four prison walls, thickened with fear, hurt, and hate, surround us. We’re incarcerated by our past, our low-road choices, and our high-minded pride. We’ve been found guilty. We sit on the floor of a dusty cell awaiting the final moment. Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls. Head between knees, we don’t look up as he opens the door; we don’t lift our eyes as he begins to speak. We know what he’s going to say: ‘Time to pay for your sins.’ But then you hear something else: ‘You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.’ The door swings open, the guard barks, ‘Get out!’ and we find ourselves in the light of the morning sun, shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering, ‘What just happened?’ Grace happened! Christ took away your sins. All of them. Where did He take them? To the top of a hill called Calvary. ‘God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty…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 NLT 1996 Edition). Jesus loves and forgives you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. So come to Him today.