Who Gains from the Cross? Barabas
Text: Matthew 27:15-23 Speaker: Pastor Matthew Ude Festival: Lent
The Crowd Chooses Barabbas (Listen)
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
What can we say? The murder, the rebellious, the sinner gets to go free. The righteous Son of God is condemned. Here we have the perfect parable, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
Does Barabbas really get off scot free just because Christ is condemned in his place? Yes absolutely. He is released without consequence or punishment. In Barabbas of course we are speaking of an earthly judgment and an earthly freedom, but he is the parable, the earthly story that has a heavenly meaning.
The Bible makes it clear that what is true for Barabbas from an earthly stand point is true for us spiritually.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Universal Objective Justification
Justification – means that the judge has made the declaration that we are innocent just as Pilate did for Barabbas
Universal – means the whole world, but it also means all sin. God doesn’t do things half way or partially. He doesn’t say I’m going to forgive this one, this one, and this one but not this one. When God says you are forgiven he means you are forgiven, past, present and future. You stand forgiven in the presence of God
I tried to explain this once in Ghana in Africa to a small group of Baptist Christians. They understood what I was saying but they just couldn’t accept it. But . . . but . . . but, they kept saying. Man has to do something they thought. They were wrong. There are not buts to God’s forgiveness.
Objective – without any reference to ourselves, always true. Here I would always explain this with reference to my translator, usually D Paul. He would be standing there next to me. And I would ask who is more handsome. This is subjective. Than I would ask who is taller. This is objective.
So too Barabbas is justified, declared innocent and free to go purely because Jesus takes his place, without any reference to his person or his crimes. The blood of Jesus sets him free.
But the blood of Jesus, although it always first offers forgiveness, does also condemn, as it did for the crowd who choose to remain in their sin rather than to accept Christ as their Messiah. Jesus warned in the gospel of John
John 16:8-9 8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
If God had not revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ, If Jesus had not died for our sins, than perhaps we might have a reasonable excuse before God’s throne. But now what excuse can anyone give?
Someone might say to God, “We did not know that you existed.” To which God might say, “I became Man, I did many incredible miracles, I rose from the dead and I told you everything you need to know about God. How can you say you did not know?”
Again man might say, “We could not keep your law no matter how hard we tried.” To which God will reply, “I died for the forgiveness of all your sins.”
Why would anyone reject such a gift? Pilate is a coward but he recognizes what motivates both the Jews and us, they condemned Jesus out of envy.
The boy who gets straight As is hated by his class. The worker who works hard and does his job well is ridiculed. Men don’t want the free gift of Christ’s forgiveness because it means admitting how badly we have failed. And so the Jews revel in the blood of Jesus, not in the forgiveness it offers to them, but in the condemnation that they bring upon themselves.
So we are left with the choice, we can consider ourselves on level with Barabbas , confess our sins and rejoice in our freedom as we see Jesus condemned in our place – Or we can lift ourselves up in our hearts, sneer at Christ and the free gift he offers and receive only the condemnation we so justly deserve.