It was the week of Jesus’ death. During a sham of a trial, he stood before Pontius Pilate accused of crimes he didn’t commit, based on trumped-up charges.
Since Jesus’ trial took place during the annual Passover festival, it was the custom that week for the authorities to free one prisoner of the Jews’ choosing. Their choices? Jesus, the sinless Son of God, or Barabbas, a murderer. In a frenzy of hatred, the crowd screamed for the release of Barabbas. Even Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent: “‘What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’” (Matthew 27:23).
Can you see yourself in this story? I sure can. I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas. We were prisoners on death row. But Jesus quietly took our place on the cross because he loves us that much.
I’d like to think that Barabbas grabbed his unexpected freedom and undeserved grace with both hands and it changed his life. Did he live out his days testifying to this Jesus who took his place? The Bible doesn’t say.
But what we do know is that we have been given a new lease on life. We were dead in our sins, doomed before a perfect God.
But then Jesus traded places with a man named Barabbas, and he also traded places with us. He paid the price for our sins. We now stand with confidence before our holy God, cloaked in the perfection of Jesus. We are free!
What are you going to do with your freedom?