Road to the Cross (Day 8)


Release to Us Barabbas

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas.” (Luke 23:18)

Did Barabbas witness the crucifixion? Scripture doesn’t say, but I wonder. If you knew someone had taken your place on the cross, and the execution was happening, just a stone’s throw outside the city wall, wouldn’t you go and see?

I wonder if Barabbas stood at a distance, surveying the three crosses, studying the man in the middle, hanging up there between heaven and earth, as though neither one wanted him. I wonder if the truth slowly percolated into Barabbas that he was witnessing his own crucifixion. That was his cross. Those were his nails. We sing hymns about Jesus dying in our place, but for Barabbas that was literally true.

Whatever became of Barabbas? Nobody knows. In the old 1961 film Barabbas, Barabbas becomes a Christian in the end. But that’s Hollywood, not Scripture. Whatever his outcome, Barabbas may have been the first person ever to glimpse a great Christian truth: Jesus died in our place.

Jesus died in my place. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). I remember the words of an old hymn, “Living for Jesus who died in my place, / bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace: / such love constrains me to answer his call, / follow his leading, and give him my all.”

He died in your place. Answer his call. Give him your all.  

Prayer: Lord, all I am I give you.


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