Anglican Morning Devotion, 26 June 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:7-15; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
It is not likely that anyone reading this devotion has ever compared themselves to the murderer, Barabbas, but the comparison may be more valid than you could ever have imagined. Barabbas was a vile sinner and brutal criminal. Beyond doubt, he was on the short list for Hell. But we need not be smug about our own righteousness for we have none apart from the imputed righteousness made available to the believer in Christ. We are classed with Barabbas as sinners in the eyes of the Lord. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
Our Lord Jesus Christ died for both Barabbas and for us on the cross – He died a vicarious death on the cross in our stead and that of Barabbas. The difference? If we have believed on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, He died that we might have life eternal. In the case of Barabbas, He died that Barabbas might live a few more days or years. Of course, we do not know what turn the soul of Barabbas may have taken in the days following his pardon and release from the horrible death on the cross.
Let us cast our spiritual pride aside momentarily and place ourselves in the predicament of Barabbas. Barabbas deserved to be condemned to Hell. And so do you! “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) You have been imprisoned in the bondage of sin and condemned. The execution of the verdict will take place at the date determined by the magistrate. You consider the horror of dying in your sins and the horror of that which follows. But suddenly another emerges who has been found innocent of any sin or crime; yet, this One has been condemned for your own crimes and sins even though that same magistrate (Pontius Pilate) pronounced Jesus innocent of any guilt whatsoever. He will pay that penalty for sin that belongs to you alone. The bars of death and Hell have been opened to set you free.
How do you feel about that? How did Barabbas feel? We are not told if Barabbas responded to that solitary act of saving grace of which you and I have been the beneficiaries, but at least in a certain manner, they are similar. One thing we know for certain – Christ died in the place of Barabbas on the cross. That sacrifice would be very limited unless Barabbas believed Christ died in the redemption of his sins. On this point, the Bible is silent, so, we cannot know. But one thing we can know, Christ died to redeem those of faith from their sins in order that His elect might have eternal life with Him.
How do you feel about that supreme sacrifice of love that Christ made for you. We can be sure that Barabbas was overwhelmed at being released from a horrible death on the cross; but how do we feel about the price Christ paid for us that we may enjoy eternal bliss instead of an eternity in the darkness of a Hell far more enduring than the cross? It is my opinion that our joy at the prospect should be immeasurable.
“Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.” (Acts 2:26-28)