The familiar narrative occurring during the trial of Jesus is the release of Barabbas the criminal. Luke says he led an “insurrection” (Lk 23:19). Mark says he “was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising” (Mk 15:7). In Matthew 27:16 it states he was a “notorious prisoner”. And in John 18:40 he: “had taken part in a rebellion”.
As testified by Pilate, the judge in this trial, Jesus is innocent and yet he is the one sentenced to death as crowds scream “crucify him”. And the criminal Barrabas goes free.
I am struck that there is an unjust judge who knows what is right but to appease the crowds does what is wrong. And we are that judge who just goes along with the majority even though we know what is right.
I am struck that the crowds condemn Jesus – and we are the crowd. Our sins scream “crucify him” and we condemn him to death. Our actions scream and demand his death.
I am struck that the rebellious, murdering notorious, guilty criminal goes free and we are that criminal. It is us who deserves death but we go free.
And finally I am struck that the recipient of the injustice, the demands of the actions of the crowds, and the penalty due is Jesus. All these groups are representatives of us in some way and yet Jesus takes it all for us, voluntarily.
1 John 4: 9-11. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Let’s enjoy the blessings of God’s love as we contrast our sin with the forgiveness that results from the amazing love and grace of Jesus. Let’s amplify the celebration of the Resurrection as we view it in the contrast of the backdrop of our darkness. And then let’s go out and in turn love one another.