I Am Barabbas: When the Guilty Goes Free Because the Innocent Was Condemned

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first thirty-one verses of the twenty-seventh chapter. “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor” (Matthew 27:1-2). “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtitly, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people” (Matthew 26:1-5). “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16). COUNSEL! CONSULTED! COVENANTED! ARE YOU LOOKING TO REMOVE JESUS? ARE YOU LOOKING TO GET RID OF JESUS? HAS JESUS BECOME TOO MUCH FOR YOU TO HANDLE? IS YOUR JESUS TOO SAFE? ARE YOU TAKING COUNSEL TOGETHER HOW TO REMOVE JESUS FROM THE PICTURE? ARE YOU CONSPIRING TOGETHER AGAINST JESUS THAT YOU MIGHT PUT HIM TO DEATH? THE RELIGIOUS ELITE CONSPIRED TO PUT JESUS TO DEATH! JUDAS COVENANTED WITH THEM TO BETRAY HIM! JUDAS SOUGHT OPPORTUNITY TO BETRAY JESUS! CONSIDER THE TREMENDOUS BURDEN THAT WOULD BE ASSOCIATED WITH SEEKING AN OPPORTUNITY TO BETRAY JESUS! RELIGION CONSPIRED TOGETHER WITHIN ITSELF! RELIGION COVENANTED WITH JUDAS! JUDAS COVENANTED WITH RELIGION!

            Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value: and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10). RETURNING THE MONEY TOO LATE! RETURNING THE MONEY AFTER THE BETRAYAL! ACCEPTING RELIGION’S SILVER AND ATTEMPTING TO RETURN IT AFTER THE BETRAYAL WAS COMPLETE! JUDAS ONLY RETURNED THE MONEY BECAUSE HE SAW THAT JESUS WAS CONDEMNED! WHAT WENT THROUGH JUDAS’ MIND AS HE NOT ONLY ACCEPTED RELIGION’S SILVER, BUT ALSO AS HE SOUGHT OPPORTUNITY TO BETRAY JESUS? WHAT WENT THROUGH JUDAS’ MIND WHEN HE MET WITH THE CHIEF PRIESTS, THE SCRIBES AND THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL TO BETRAY JESUS? WHAT DID JUDAS THINK WHEN HE WAS LEADING THE INSURGENT TO AND INTO THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE ARMED WITH SWORDS AND STAVES? WHAT DID JUDAS THINK WOULD HAPPEN? WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE CONDEMNATION OF JESUS THAT CAUSED JUDAS TO SEEK TO RETURN THE MONEY? RETURNING THE MONEY ABSENT REPENTANCE! JUDAS SOUGHT TO RETURN THE MONEY, HOWEVER, THERE WAS NO REPENTNACE ACCOMPANYING THE RETURNING OF THE MONEY!

            “And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:11-14).

            “Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas” (Matthew 27:15-21).

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-26).

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:27-30).

            When you transition to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the trial of Jesus the Christ progressing beyond the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, and the false witnesses which they attempted to raise up against Him. As you come to the end of the twenty-sixth chapter of this New Testament book you will find and encounter Jesus having been betrayed by Judas Iscariot in the garden of Gethsemane—betrayed in the place of intimacy and prayer. What makes the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of this gospel narrative so incredible powerful and captivating is when you take the time to think about how this betrayal would come and immediately follow Jesus praying unto His Father—and not only praying unto His Father, but also praying unto His Father who was in heaven. Upon reading the words which are found in the previous chapter you will find Jesus leading His disciples unto the garden of Gethsemane and taking with Him Peter, James and John a little further into the garden. Upon bringing Peter, James and John into a place deeper within the garden Jesus would leave them and would Himself travel and journey a little further into the garden where He would get alone before and with His Father who was in heaven. If and as you read the words found in this chapter you will quickly encounter and find Jesus becoming exceeding sorrowful upon entering into the garden—undoubtedly sorrowful because He was aware of what was about to take place. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus was very much aware of that which would take place on this night when He entered into the garden, and recognized and realized that it would only be a short while before His betrayer would enter into the garden with those who were armed with swords and staves. Consider if you will the words and language which is found in the twenty-sixth chapter concerning Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as He prayed before and unto His Father which was in heaven:

            “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith ue unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little a further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:36-46).

            “And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:47-56).

            It is truly something to read and consider these words, for within these words we find Jesus entering into the garden of Gethsemane—and not only entering into the garden, but also entering the garden to pray. Jesus had spent a considerable amount of time teaching His disciples and preparing them for the suffering He would face and endure at the hands of the religious elite, as well as at the hands of sinners. Jesus spent a considerable amount of time preparing the disciples for the fact that He would even be killed and be crucified after being betrayed by one of His own. On at least four different occasions within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus speaking unto His disciples and teaching them concerning the tremendous truth that He would indeed and would in fact be betrayed, would indeed suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of the people, would also be mocked and scourged by the Gentiles, and would ultimately be killed and crucified before being raised from death to life on the third day. What we find here in this passage is not simply Jesus’ understanding of what would come upon and befall Him, but actually Jesus knowing that the hour of what He had previously taught and spoke about had come to pass. Jesus knew and recognized that the hour of His betrayal and the hour of His suffering had indeed come and was only a few short minutes away. Oh stop and think about what this must have been like for Jesus entering into the garden as He not only knew He would suffer and be killed, but now He knew that the time and the hour of that suffering and death would be manifested.

            It’s incredibly interesting to read the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and find how Jesus would enter into the garden a free man, and would enter with His disciples. Jesus would bring His disciples with him to the garden of Gethsemane and would leave eight of the disciples near the entrance of the garden and instructed them to sit while He Himself would go yonder and pray. He would take Peter, James and John with Him a little further into the garden and would instruct them to sit—and not merely to sit, but also to watch, to tarry and to pray. What’s more, is that Jesus would speak and reveal unto Peter, James and John that His soul was exceeding sorrowful and heavy—a statement that would be the underlying catalyst and foundation for His prayer and His praying there in the midst of the garden. Having left these three disciples Jesus would go a little further into the garden and immediately fall upon His face before His Father which was in heaven. There in that place Jesus would pray unto the Father, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Having praying these words Jesus would return to the disciples the first time and found them asleep before speaking unto them and inviting them to watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation. Jesus would them go away a second time into the garden and prayed before and unto the Father, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Please don’t miss that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for the first time Jesus prayed He prayed asking the Father if it were possible to allow the cup to pass from Him that He might not. With these words, however, Jesus would also boldly and emphatically declare unto the Father that it was not as He willed, nor as He would, but as the Father Himself would. The second time Jesus returned and prayed before His Father in heaven we find Him declaring unto the Father that if it was not possible that the cup pass away from Him except He drink it, the will of the Father would be done.

            What I find to be so intriguing about this chapter is that not only was Jesus betrayed in the place of intimacy, fellowship and relationship, but Jesus was betrayed immediately after praying before and unto the Father. Stop and think about the fact that Jesus would pray before and unto His Father three different times there in the garden, and immediately after rising from that place of prayer He would come face to face with that one who would betray Him. Upon rising from the place of prayer Jesus would see Judas approaching and coming near unto Him in the garden knowing full well that which Judas was intending on doing. Judas would draw near to and approach Jesus, would speak the words “Hail, Master,” and would give Jesus a kiss on the cheek. Immediately following this kiss those armed men who were with Judas would lay hold of Jesus and would ultimately lead Him away from and out of the garden. Having just finished praying before and unto His Father who was in heaven Jesus would immediately encounter and come face to face with that one who would betray Him—and not only come face to face with that one who would betray Him, but would also come face to face with those whom Judas had brought with Him. It’s interesting to note that Jesus entered into the garden with His disciples that He might pray before and unto the Father, while Judas would enter the garden with armed men and soldiers who came brandishing and bearing swords and staves. Jesus would enter the garden of Gethsemane with disciples that He might pray before and unto them, while Judas would enter into the garden—not to pray, but to betray. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how Jesus would enter into the garden in the company and fellowship of His disciples and those whom He called friends, while Judas would enter into the garden with those whom he did not know, and those whose sole purpose and agenda was to lay hold of Jesus, bind Him, and bring Him back unto the place where the religious elite had assembled.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there were essentially two main players in the garden of Gethsemane on this evening—the first being Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the second being Judas. On this particular night Jesus would enter into the garden with His disciples, would leave eight of them closer to the entrance of the garden, while He took the other three with Him a little further into the garden. Upon instructing these three disciples to sit and tarry in the garden Jesus would also instruct them to watch and pray while He Himself went a little further into the garden. Jesus entered the garden with and for the sole purpose and mission of praying before and unto His Father knowing what was about to befall and come upon Him, while Judas Iscariot would enter into the garden—not to pray, but to betray. Judas entered the garden with one single ambition, one single agenda, and one single purpose, and that was to betray Jesus with a kiss. Not only this, but Judas would not enter into the garden of Gethsemane alone, for he would enter with those men who were armed with swords and staves as they were ready and prepared to take Jesus. What’s more, is that there is not a doubt in my mind that those whom Judas brought with him had direct orders from the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel to lay hold of Jesus forcefully and to bind Him that they might bring Him unto the place where they had gathered in the night. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that these men who accompanied Judas were those who were given specific instruction by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people to lay hold of and hold fast Jesus the Christ and bring Him back unto them that they might find reason to accuse and condemn Him. Oh how incredibly powerful this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for Judas would enter into the garden with the single and sole purpose of betraying Jesus into the hands of those who would bring Him captive and bound unto the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel.

            What we find in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful picture of Jesus entering into the garden with and for the sole purpose of praying before and unto His Father who was in heaven as He prayed Himself to face and endure that which was going to befall and come upon Him. Jesus entered into the garden for the sole purpose of praying before and unto His Father who was in heaven that He might prepare Himself for what He knew was about to come upon Him there in the garden. We dare not and must not miss how incredibly important this truly is when we take the time to think about it, for although Jesus knew and was well aware of that which befall and come upon Him, He knew He could not face and endure it without and apart from prayer. Jesus would pray before and unto His Father that He might be able to endure the cup of suffering and the cup of death which He was about to drink, and He would instruct His disciples that they themselves pray that they might not enter into temptation—the temptation to become offended with Jesus, the temptation to forsake and flee from Jesus, and even the temptation to react as Simon called Peter did by drawing his sword and striking off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Prayer for Jesus in the garden was centered upon His ability to face and endure the suffering and death He would endure on the other side of the garden, while prayer for the disciples was that they not enter into temptation. Undoubtedly Jesus recognized and understood the need for prayer among His disciples, and when He came and returned unto them and found them sleeping, He asked them if they could not watch and pray with Him for one hour. Jesus would then go on to instruct them to watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation, for the spirit is truly willing, but the flesh is weak.

            If there is one thing I find to be so captivating when reading this particular chapter is that before Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies and adversaries by one of His own—not only would He partake of the Passover meal with His disciples in the upper room, but we also find Him praying before and unto His Father. In those final hours leading up to and before Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own Jesus would choose to devote that time to investing and pouring into His disciples there at the table in the upper room, as well as praying before and unto His Father. Having done everything He was supposed to do in the upper room—including presenting and giving the cup with the fruit of the vine which symbolized His blood, and the bread which symbolized His body. Jesus would present the cup and the bread to His disciples there in the upper room and would enter into a new and living covenant with them, and upon finishing supper with the disciples He would lead them to a familiar place—a place where He undoubtedly spent time praying before His Father, and perhaps even taught the disciples privately how to pray before and unto the Father. We know that the disciples would have accompanied Jesus to this place, for Judas knew of the place and was able to lead the insurgent of those armed with swords and staves with him unto and into the garden. It would be there in the midst of the garden of Gethsemane we find Judas entering with those armed with swords and staves with and for the sole purpose of betraying Jesus into their hands that they might lay hold of Him and bring Him forth from and out of the garden. Jesus entered into the garden with the sole purpose of praying before and unto His Father who was in heaven, and Jesus would instruct His disciples to pray. Judas, however, would not enter the garden to pray but to betray, and would instruct those with him to lay hold of that one whom he would draw near unto and give a kiss. What a vast and fundamental difference is found within this passage of Scripture, for Judas would depart from the upper room that he might finalize his plan to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries, and he would enter into the garden with a group of soldiers armed with swords and staves that they might lay hold of Him.

            What I find to be absolutely astonishing and remarkable when I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is that when you come to the twenty-seventh chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Judas returning unto the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel with the thirty pieces of silver they had given unto him. The apostle Matthew reveals that when Judas realized and recognized that Jesus was condemned to die he realized the error of his ways and what he had done, and sought to return the money unto those who had given it to him. Judas recognized and realized that he had betrayed innocent blood into the hands of the religious elite of that day, and he sought to return the silver unto them. In all reality this is something that is quite telling when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that Judas had absolutely no trouble, nor any problem with taking the silver from the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel when he agreed to betray Jesus into their hands, and yet it was when he realized and recognized that Jesus was condemned by religion to die that he sought to return religion’s silver unto those who had given it to him. Judas—when he saw that Jesus had been condemned by religion to die—sought and desired to take that silver which he had received from religion and return it unto them, for he realized how he had betrayed innocent blood into their hands. The question I can’t help but ask myself when reading this passage of Scripture is what Judas sought to accomplish by returning the silver unto the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. We know that Judas took and accepted religion’s silver as a payment for betraying Jesus into their hands, however, when Judas realized and recognized that religion had condemned Jesus unto death Judas sought to return that silver unto those who had given it to him.

            I find it truly astonishing and unique to think about and consider the words found in the twenty-seventh chapter of this gospel narrative, for that which we find here is a powerful picture of religion raising up false witnesses against Jesus to testify Him that they might have reason to not only accuse Him, but also that they might have reason to sentence Him to death. What we must needs realize and understand concerning religion was that they didn’t pay Judas thirty pieces of silver solely for his covenant with them to betray Jesus into their hands that they might buffet him. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel covenanted together with Judas and gave him those thirty pieces of silver that he might betray Jesus into their hands, and once in their hands they would further their conspiracy against Him. Judas’ actions was only a small portion and a small part in that which they had actually planned concerning Jesus the Christ, for once Jesus was delivered unto them and into their hands in the secret and darkness of the night they would proceed to buffet Him by spitting in His face and striking Him with their hands. Not only this, but the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would also seek to raise up false witnesses that by the words of their testimony they might have reason to not only accuse Jesus, but might also have reason to put Him to death. What we must needs realize and understand is that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel didn’t merely seek to find occasion to accuse Jesus, but rather they sought to find reason to kill, to destroy and eradicate Him from the picture. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel had grown sick and tired of Jesus in the picture and sought for a way and the means to forcefully remove Him from the equation and picture that He might no longer teach and speak among the people, nor even work the signs, wonders and miracles He did over a three and a half year period of time. What was previously the scribes, the chief priests, and the elders of Israel seeking to find occasion to accuse Jesus had now transitioned into the place where accusation wasn’t enough, for they now sought to kill Him.

            The question I can’t help but ask myself when reading this passage of Scripture is whether Judas knew when he took and accepted religion’s silver that their ultimate end game and goal was to sentence and condemn Jesus unto death. When Judas chose to accept religion’s silver did he indeed and did he in fact know that the whole entire time religion was intending on sentencing and condemning Jesus to death that they might completely and utterly remove Him from the picture? I would love to know what went through the heart and mind of Judas when He chose to conspire together with the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. I wonder what the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel spoke and said unto Judas during their exchange, and what Judas’ understanding of the events of that night, as well as their motive truly was. Did Judas know that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel sought to put Jesus to death for crimes which they felt and believed He had committed toward and against them? Scripture doesn’t provide too many details concerning this exchange between Judas and the religious elite, however, we do know that they covenanted together with him to give thirty pieces of silver for the betrayal of Jesus. On this night Judas would leave the company and presence of these religious leaders with thirty pieces of silver, and the only thing he had to do was betray Jesus into their hands. Judas would enter into covenant with the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and would take and accept their silver as payment to betray Jesus into their hands. On this particular night Judas would depart from the company and presence of religion and religious leaders that he might betray Jesus into their hands. Judas chose to accept religion’s silver on this particular night that he might betray Jesus into their hands, and that he might have the silver for himself. Oh stop and truly take the time to think about the events which took place on this night, for Judas would choose to accept religion’s silver as payment to betray Jesus into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and on this same night Judas would also take and accept the sup of relationship from the hand of Jesus.

            The words which we find in the twenty-seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew are actually quite telling and quite captivating when you take the time to think about them, for the chapter itself begins with Jesus being bound and led away from the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel after they had tried Him and raised up false witnesses against Him. In the opening verses of this chapter we find the night having passed and the new day dawning—and with that new day would come the chief priests and the elders of the people taking counsel against Jesus to put Him to death. The opening verses of the twenty-seventh chapter describe how when the morning was come the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus how they might put Him to death—this after they had forced Him to stand trial the night before. It would be during the previous evening Jesus would be betrayed in the garden by Judas with a kiss and would be laid hold of, seized and bound by the insurgent whom Judas would bring with him. It would be the night before Jesus would be brought into the company and presence of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel where they were ready and waiting for Him. There in the council of the religious elite the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel were ready and waiting with their false witnesses whom they would bring against Jesus that they might find with those witnesses reason and occasion to put Jesus to death. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand it’s that the whole desire, intention and motive of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel was to put Jesus to death and to eradicate and remove Him from the picture. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people didn’t merely want Jesus to stand trial that He might be accused and end up prison as was John the Baptist, for they actually sought to put Jesus to death and completely and entirely remove Him from the equation. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people had had enough of Jesus the Christ, and their sole desire, mission and purpose was to put Him to death that He might finally be removed from the land of Judaea never to be seen or heard again.

            Towards the end of the twenty-sixth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find all those who were present on that night being asked what they thought concerning Jesus after hearing the various different witnesses who had been raised up against Him. Upon hearing the various different witnesses and testimonies all those who were present on this particular night agreed with one voice and one heart that Jesus was guilty of death. Immediately thereafter we find them spitting in His face, buffeting him, and others striking Him with the palms of their hands. Within and during this night we find the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people continuing their conspiracy against Jesus the Christ—not only in raising up false witnesses against Him, and not only in declaring and proclaiming that He was guilty of death, but also beginning the suffering which He would face and endure. It would be there on the very night in which He was betrayed the suffering of Jesus would indeed begin as He would have His face spit in, as He would be buffeted or beaten by those present, and would even have His face struck with the palms of the hands of those present. Oh I have to admit that I can’t help but wonder how many times Jesus had His face spit in on this particular night and how many times Jesus was beaten by those who were present. What’s more, is I can’t help but think about how many priests actually struck Jesus with the palms of their hands and/or even proceeded to beat Him that evening. How many of those who were responsible for teaching and upholding the Law of Moses actually struck the person of Jesus with their hands—and perhaps not only struck Him once, but struck Him over and over again. What’s more, is that I can’t help but see the suffering of Jesus in light of the parable of the good Samaritan which Jesus would give in response to being asked the question concerning who is our neighbor. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the physician Luke:

            “…But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:29-37).

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this passage, for although the priest and the Levite weren’t actually the ones who laid their hands upon this man and stripped him of his raiment and beaten him—they were nonetheless those who came upon him as they themselves journeyed alone the way and chose to do nothing. What we find within this parable is a powerful picture of religion and those who perceive themselves to be religious coming upon one who is in need and choosing to do absolutely nothing. Both the priest and/or the Levite could have stopped to come to the aid and assistance of this man, and yet Scripture reveals how the priest came unto this man and passed by on the other side without even stopping to show compassion on this man. The Levite would actually come and look upon this man who was beaten, stripped of his clothes, and left for dead, and would also himself pass by on the other side. Within this parable we find a priest and a Levite who wouldn’t engage themselves in the violence that caused this man to suffer, however, they would also not engage themselves in the means and manner of providing care and compassion for this man. It is important for us to think about and consider this—particularly and especially when reading the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—for what we find here is actually religion striking the face of Jesus with the palm of its hand. What we find within this passage of Scripture is an incredibly powerful picture of religion not only seeking to accuse and raise up false witness against Jesus, but religion actually striking the face and physical person of Jesus. A similar reality would indeed be found during the days of Jeremiah when the priests, the princes and the prophets of that day could not handle the words and prophetic message this prophet sent by God would proclaim among them in their hearing. There would be times within the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah when he himself would be struck and smitten by prophets and priests alike as they not only could not handle, but also resisted the words and message which the prophet spoke.

            I have oftentimes said and declared that Jeremiah was perhaps that Old Testament prophet who was most closely aligned with the sufferings which Jesus the Christ would face and experience, for Jeremiah would not only be that one who would be cast into prison and into a pit, but Jeremiah would also be that one who was struck by priests, prophets and rulers of the people alike. If and as you read the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that Jeremiah was one who would be vehemently hated and abhorred—not only by the princes and rulers of his generation, but also by the prophets and priests. We know that there was at least one righteous king who would sit upon the throne of David during the days of Jeremiah the prophet, and it would be that righteous king who would stand and serve as an instrument to delay and postpone the judgment of God upon the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. So long as Josiah sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the judgment, the destruction and the devastation which Jeremiah prophesied about—that which would be in direct response to the sins of Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah—would be postponed and delayed. Once Josiah was out of the picture and no longer sat upon the throne of David, however, we would begin to see this strong and vehement opposition and hatred toward and against Jeremiah as princes, prophets and priests alike would raise themselves up against him. There would be those times when Josiah would be struck and smitten by those who could not stand and handle his words and message, and there would be other times when Jeremiah would be cast into prison, or bound with chains, or even cast into a cistern. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for just as the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day could not handle his words, nor his message and would last out against him, so also would the religious leaders during Jesus’ day take offense with His words and message. What’s more is that for three and a half years they neither laid hands on, nor would they strike Jesus at all because His time and His hour had not yet come. Despite how vehement their hatred was toward Him, and despite how many times they sought to trap and ensnare Him in His words that they might find reason to accuse Him they could not lay a single finger or hand upon Jesus, for His time and His hour had not yet come.

            WHEN THE TIME HAS COME! WHEN THE HEDGE IS REMOVED! It’s actually quite astonishing and worth writing and speaking about that for three and a half years—neither the chief priests, nor the elders of the people, nor even the scribes or the Pharisees could lay a hand on Jesus. During that three and a half year period of time—despite the fact that their hatred for and towards Jesus was so palpable, and despite the fact that their animosity and offense toward Jesus was incredibly strong, there was not a single person who could lay a single hand on Jesus. Oh they could conspire together among themselves against Him, and they could wish and desire to kill Him and put Him to death, however, they were completely and utterly powerless to do anything against Him. Pause and consider this particular reality that just as Satan could not touch or lay a hand upon Job’s physical person, nor anything that belonged to him without and apart from the approval and permission of the living God, so also could the religious leaders during Jesus’ day not lay a hand on Him without and apart from the timing, the permission and the will of the Father who was in heaven. Despite the fact that the religious elite during Jesus’ day might have carried their vehement hatred for and toward Him for three and a half years they were completely and utterly powerless to do anything toward and against Him. It wouldn’t be until the time and hour which had been ordained and appointed by the living God had come that they were actually able to lift up their hand against Him in the earth. For three and a half years the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the religious elite during Jesus’ days walked with their anger, their malice and their hostility brewing and rising within their hearts and souls, and yet they were completely and utterly powerless to do a single thing toward and against Jesus. Oh they could persecute Jesus and oppose Him with their words and their questions, and they could attempt to find reason to accuse Jesus, however, they were completely and utterly powerless to do anything against the person of Jesus the Christ.

            What we find within the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh chapters of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a truly astonishing and powerful picture of the timing and will of the Father, for without and apart from both working in tandem with each other the religious elite were entirely and altogether powerless to do anything toward and against the person of Jesus the Christ. Despite the fact that their hatred, their animosity, their malice and their offense with Him had spanned a three and a half year period of time they were entirely and altogether powerless to do anything toward and against Jesus. Oh despite the fact that they sought many occasions to find reason to accuse Jesus, and despite the fact that they spent a considerable amount of time opposing and persecuting Jesus and His disciples during those three and a half years they were entirely and altogether powerless to lift a single hand or finger against Jesus. Stop and think about that particular reality, for just as all the suffering which Satan inflicted upon Job had to go through the person of the living God who sat upon the throne, so also could the suffering which Jesus faced and endured have to go through the Father. With this being said it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that Jesus was indeed sent into the earth to suffer, and He was indeed sent into the earth to be killed and be crucified, however, none of that would or could come upon Him until the appointed time that was ordained and appointed by the person of the living God. It is absolutely incredible that although Jesus would spend different times teaching His disciples how He must needs journey unto Jerusalem and there suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and the elders of the people there was not a single one of them who could do anything prior to the appointed time which had been ordained by the living God. Jesus would indeed and would in fact teach His disciples how He must suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite, and how He must needs be mocked and scourged by the Gentiles before being killed and crucified, however, none of that would or could take place within His life apart from the divine will and appointed time of the Father. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that it was will of the Father that Jesus should suffer the whole time, and yet that suffering would and could not take place apart from the appointed time. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning with the first verse:

            “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which are found here in this passage bring us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the divine will of the Father surrounding the suffering of His Son in the flesh. When we think and speak about the suffering of Jesus in the flesh we must needs realize and understand that although and despite the fact that the religious elite took great offense to Him, and had extreme and vehement animosity and hostility toward Him, they were entirely and altogether powerless to do anything toward and against Him until the appointed time of the Father. We know that it was the divine will of the Father that Jesus should indeed and should in fact suffer, however, we must also realize and understand that the suffering itself would not and could not take place apart from and until the time ordained by the Father. During those three and a half years the only thing the chief priests, scribes, elders of the people, Pharisees and Sadducees could do was oppose, persecute, tempt, and seek to trap Jesus in His words. At no point would or could any of the religious elite lay a single hand on Jesus until the appointed time which was ordained by the Father. Oh their hatred, their malice, their animosity might have grown and festered for three and a half years, however, they would be entirely and altogether barred from acting upon it outside of and apart from the will of the Father. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning the suffering which Jesus would face and endure  was that although it was the will of the Father that He should suffer in the flesh, He would not and could not actually suffer until the appointed time. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that suffering was indeed appointed unto and for Jesus, however, that suffering could not actually be manifested until the appointed time. We must needs realize that there is the appointment of suffering, and there is also the appointed time of suffering—both of which work in direct relation to and with the divine will of the Father which is in heaven.

            The more I read these words the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus the Christ was vehemently hated and opposed throughout much—if not all—of His earthly ministry, and yet the suffering which He was appointed to and for would not be able to take place until the hour and time ordained and appointed by God. Jesus would teach His disciples how He must needs go unto Jerusalem and there at Jerusalem suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite and be mocked and scourged by the Gentiles, however, none of that would or could take place until the Father would remove that hedge of protection which was around and upon His Son. Even when Jesus was a young child no more than two or three years old mand could not destroy Him, for even when Herod sought to slaughter all the infant male children under the age of two the Father would protect Jesus by instructing Joseph to bring Mary and the child down into the land of Egypt. Almost from the time Jesus was born the enemy and adversary sought to destroy Him, and yet no harm could come upon Him until that appointed time ordained by the Father which was in heaven. For thirty-three and a half years Jesus would essentially remain untouchable—despite the vehement hatred and animosity of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel toward Him. There would be a period of three and a half years when Jesus would indeed be in the public spotlight and in the eyes of men, and it would be during those three and a half years Jesus’ opponents and adversaries could persecute and oppose Him, but could not actually lift up a hand or finger against and upon Him.

            As we come to the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Father essentially removing the hedge of protection which was around and upon the physical person of His Son in the flesh, and would allow Him to be touched by men. It’s worth noting that not only would the Father essentially remove the hedge of protection around His Son and allow Him to suffer, but He would also allow Him to be put to death. We know that Jesus willingly, deliberately and voluntarily laid down His life, and that He embraced and endured the suffering He would experience, however, we must understand that such realities were only possible because of the Father allowing it to be so. Jesus knew that He had come into the world to suffer and to die before being raised from death to life on the third day and ascending to the Father in heaven, however, there was the element of the timing and protection of the Father that must be recognized and understood when we speak of this matter. Jesus would indeed suffer at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people, and Jesus would also suffer at the hands of the Romans, however, we must recognize and understand how that suffering would need to include and involve the timing of the Father and the removal of the hedge of protection around and upon the Son. Jesus would indeed and would in fact suffer at the hands of both religion and sinners alike, however, neither could physically lay a hand on and touch Him until the Father had purposed and ordained it to be so. What’s more, is that it’s actually interesting and worth noting that Jesus would indeed and would in fact suffer—first at the hands of religion and the religious leaders, and second at the hands of sinners. Jesus would initially be tried by religion and would initially be falsely accused by religion before ultimately being condemned to death by religion. Oh how absolutely astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that before Jesus would ever be put to death by the Romans He would first be condemned to death by religion, for it was religion itself that ultimately wanted Jesus removed and destroyed.

            If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand concerning the suffering and death of Jesus it’s that Jesus wasn’t hated by sinners, nor was Jesus hated by the Gentiles, nor even by the Romans. The more you read the gospel narratives the more you will find that Jesus was hated by religion, and it was religion itself that sought to have Him destroyed and put to death. Even when Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate this Roman governor could find no fault with Jesus and would even seek to release Him back into the midst of the people. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the Roman governor found no fault with Jesus and would have released Him back into the midst of the population, yet because of the will of the Father working together with the hatred of the religious leaders He would ultimately be sentenced to death. I would even dare say that even when the Roman guards and soldiers plated the crown of thorns upon the brow of Jesus, and buffeted and smote Him, and scourged Him, and ultimately killed and crucified Him, they did not do so out of their own hatred and animosity toward Jesus, but simply acting out their own sadistic pleasures and carnal desires. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the Roman soldiers and guards scourged Jesus, they did not do so because of their hatred and animosity toward Jesus but simply because they were carrying out orders from Pontius Pilate, and perhaps even from their superiors. We must needs realize and understand that what the Roman soldiers did was carry out the hatred and animosity of religion toward and against Jesus as it would work together with their own carnal desires and sadistic pleasures. Rome harbored no ill will toward Jesus, and you won’t find anywhere in the gospel narratives Rome ever taking and finding offense and fault with Jesus. There is not a single place within the four gospel narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when Rome ever found fault and took offense with Jesus. Even when Jesus was brought before Rome—or at least before the representation of the authority of Rome in Judaea—and was accused by religion, Pilate would and could not find fault with Jesus.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it’s incredibly necessary that we recognize and understand that when we think about the suffering of Jesus—particularly once Pontius Pilate had released Jesus into the hands of the Roman soldiers to carry out their own sadistic desires and pleasures—not only did He and could He find no fault within Jesus, but even finding innocence in Jesus he would still deliver that one that was guilty. What we find in the twenty-seventh chapter of this gospel narrative is an incredibly powerful picture of He who was innocent and had done no wrong being condemned and sentenced to die, while he who was guilty and deserved to die was released and set free. We know that Barabbas was a thief and a murderer, and yet this thief and a murderer would ultimately find release and freedom as Jesus would take His place. Pilate would release that one who was guilty and at the same time would sentence that one who was innocent to die and be crucified. We must not miss and lose sight of this, for Pilate played a role that centered around more than just sentencing Jesus to die. The role Pontius Pilate played was finding no fault within Jesus and declaring Him innocent, and releasing the guilty and the condemned that the one who was innocent might take his place and be crucified. Barabbas should have ultimately been on that third cross in the middle between the other two thieves who hung there on either side, and yet instead of Barabbas it was Jesus who hung between the two thieves. What’s so incredibly interesting about this is that when you think about the two thieves on the cross you will not learn either of their names—only that the one railed against Jesus from the cross, while the other repented before Jesus while hanging upon his own cross. When, however, we learn of the thief who was in custody when Jesus was brought to Pilate we learn his name—and not only do we learn his name, but we also learn how he himself was a thief and a murderer and was responsible for taking part in and leading an insurrection within the city of Jerusalem.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is something worth noting about learning the name of this thief and murderer Barabbas, for we know that he was guilty, and we know that he was most likely condemned to death. In fact, were it not for Jesus arriving at Pontius Pilate’s doorstep Barabbas might very well have been hanging there on that tree between the other two thieves. The only reason Barabbas went free was because Jesus was brought before and unto Pilate, and the crowd chose to have Barabbas released unto them rather than an instead of Jesus. This is something we must pay careful and close attention to, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus showing up before Pontius Pilate was not only that He might be pronounced as innocent, but also that in His sentencing to death one who was guilty could go free. What I would love to know is what the testimony of Barabbas was like after he was set free by Pontius Pilate on that day. When Barabbas who undoubtedly knew that he was guilty and deserved to die was set free by Pontius Pilate, I can’t help but wonder if he took this freedom as a new lease on life and chose to live his life completely and entirely differently. I can’t help but wonder if after Barabbas was set free by Pontius Pilate and released back into the population he chose to live his life completely and entirely different. How do you live your life knowing you were guilty, knowing you deserved to die, and were released and set free? What do you do when you were preparing to die and to suffer the punishment for your sins, and yet instead of receiving that punishment and judgment you receive pardon and freedom? Oh I would love to know if Barabbas ever stole again, or if Barabbas ever engaged in murder again. I would love to know the testimony after the release and the testimony after the freedom. I would love to know what it was like for Barabbas after he heard those words that he would be released unto and among the people and would essentially go free.

            THE TESTIMONY AFTER THE FREEDOM! THE LIFESTYLE AFTER THE FREEDOM! I find it absolutely incredible to think about the narrative of Barabbas and what his life was like after Pilate released him, removed his chains, and declared that he was free to go. What was it like as those chains were removed and fell from his wrists and ankles and he was able to continue on—not only in freedom, but also having his life back? Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear what Barabbas’ life was like after Pilate set him free and released him back into the midst of the population, however, I am convinced there is significance in learning the name of this thief and murderer—namely, that you and I are Barabbas. You and I were guilty of death and deserved judgment and punishment, and you and I deserved the just penalty for our sin and for our transgression against the LORD. The apostle Paul wrote that the wages of sin is death and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Jeremiah wrote how the heart was deceitful and desperately wicked above all things, and we must needs realize and understand this. We don’t know and we perhaps won’t ever know what Barabbas’ life was like after the chains were removed, and after he received a second chance in life, however, we can answer that question concerning and regarding our own life. If Jesus has indeed set you free and has caused your chains to be removed, and caused your prison door to be opened, and has caused you to experience freedom instead of bondage and life instead of death—how then have you chosen to live? I would love to know if Barabbas ever sinned and transgressed in the same manner again, or if perhaps he decided to be a follower of Jesus the Christ after He rose from the dead, or perhaps even was part of the three thousand who joined the early Church on the day of Pentecost. Pause for a moment and think about Barabbas being a part of the church and the thief on the cross being with Jesus in paradise. Do you have a context for thieves and murderers being a part of the body of Christ and for thieves and murderers to be with Jesus in paradise? Do you have a framework for thieves and murderers to receive a second chance on life after finding grace, after finding mercy and after finding forgiveness because that One who was innocent was condemned and sentenced to death?

            The single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves when reading this particular passage of Scripture is how we are living our lives, and what we are doing with the freedom we have been given because another one suffered and died upon the cross in our place and for our sins. I have often stated and declared that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we wouldn’t have to, and I firmly believe that. With that being said, however, I am convinced that only tells part of the story and only explains part of the reality. I do not believe Jesus died upon the cross so we wouldn’t have to, but rather died on the cross as an example to us who have been called to carry the cross and present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. What’s more, is that when we read the narrative of Barabbas we must recognize and understand that he—for all intents and purposes—should have been the one to hang there upon that cross, and yet instead of hanging upon the cross he would walk away from the crimes he committed, walked away from the chains, and walked away from the prison he was being held in. Oh I can’t help but think about how it would be just like the living God to not only give Barabbas a second chance at life, but would also bring Him into the early Church on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand souls were added to the one-hundred and twenty who were in the upper room. What I must needs say is that if you have no context for Barabbas getting a second chance at life and perhaps even becoming part of the early Church than you might as well view yourself in the same light, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If you have no context for the thief on the cross, nor even for Barabbas who was set free by Pilate then you might very well have no context for yourself and the second chance you received and the freedom Jesus Christ afforded and offered you when He suffered at the hands of sinners and was nailed to the cross and hung there to satisfy the penalty and punishment of sin in your place.

            There is not a doubt in my mind that with Barabbas we see a strong and powerful picture of Jesus not only being condemned and sentenced in his place, but we also see the guilty going free while the innocent would be killed and crucified. Jesus would die upon the cross in the place and in the stead of Barabbas while Barabbas would be permitted to continue living. Oh how truly astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Barabbas would be permitted to experience freedom—even despite his clear and flagrant offenses and crimes—and would be permitted to live instead of being sentenced to death. Oh how I would absolutely love to see the thief on the cross who Jesus declared would be with Him in paradise in heaven, and how I would love to see Barabbas also in heaven as that man who went free because Jesus was condemned. Judas was known as the man who betrayed Jesus. Peter was the man who was known as the one who denied Jesus. Simon would be known as the one who helped Jesus carry His cross. Pilate would be known as the one who sentenced and condemned Jesus to death. Barabbas would be known as the man who went free because Jesus was condemned and sentenced to death. THE MAN WHO WENT FREE! THE MAN WHO WENT FREE BECAUSE ANOTHER WAS CONDEMNED! THE MAN WHO WENT FREE BECAUSE ANOTHER WAS CONDEMNED IN HIS place! Oh how incredibly beautiful the narrative of Barabbas is, and one of the main reasons why I feel Pontius Pilate was included and was part of the divine will and plan of the Father. Pontius Pilate was ultimately the one who sentenced Jesus to death, however, he was also the man who pronounced the innocence of Jesus, and was the one who permitted one man to go free while Jesus would be condemned to death. Oh how truly incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for Barabbas would that man who would be delivered and set free because that one who was innocent would be condemned and sentenced to death. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for if we fail to do understand and comprehend it we fail to realize and recognize that we ourselves are Barabbas. You are Barabbas. I am Barabbas. We have all been where Barabbas once was, and we have all been permitted to get a second chance at life, and have received freedom instead of bondage, and life instead of death. The question we must needs ask ourselves is not whether or not we have received and experienced both freedom and life, but what we have done with that freedom and life.

We might not know the testimony and narrative of Barabbas after Pilate had released him while sentencing Jesus to death, however, I have to say that I would absolutely love if Barabbas ended up becoming a disciple and follower of Jesus, and even ended up becoming part of the three thousand that joined the early Church on the day of Pentecost. I would absolutely love it if Barabbas was baptized in water, and even received the Holy Spirit and the baptism which came from Jesus at the right hand of the Father. I would love it is Barabbas became part of the fellowship of believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and even gave himself to the apostle’s teaching and the breaking of bread and fellowship. I would absolutely love if Barabbas was that one who had committed and dedicated his life to Jesus and would spend the rest of his life walking with and following Jesus. We don’t know if this was indeed and was in fact the case, however, what we do know and what we can determine is if that is our testimony. We can indeed and can in fact determine and decide if after we have received and experienced freedom, and if after we have gained life instead of death we are able to walk in freedom and newness of life. We must indeed determine if we are those who will live in the reality that if and because we are in Christ we are new creations in Christ, and that old things have passed away, and behold all things have become new. We have a great responsibility to determine our testimony after we have been delivered and set free from the chains and prison of bondage, shame, guilt, condemnation, and the punishment of death, and after we have been granted life instead of death. The question you and I must ask is what is your testimony and what is my testimony after we have received freedom instead of bondage and life instead of death because Jesus Himself was sentenced and condemned to death and hung there upon the cross before dying and ultimately being raised from death to life.

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