Only hours before the crucifixion of Jesus, He was ushered before Pilate, the Roman official entrusted with governing the Jewish nation. As Pilate observed the case against Jesus, he soon realized it wasn’t very solid. Rather then simply making a decision right there, he chose to place the decision in the hands of the crowd. What were the crowd’s options? To release an infamous felon, Barabbas, or the man that now stood before them, Jesus. Although the decision was now out of Pilate’s hands, he was nearly certain the crowd would choose the much safer and more popular Jesus. Much to his amazement, though, the Pharisees, acting in pure jealousy, enraged the crowd and persuaded them to choose Barabbas.
In this choice, the crowd chose life for own man and sure death for the other. Although I’ve heard and read this story numerous times, this weekend it struck me that Jesus gave His life ultimately for each of us, but in that moment, He was hanging on the very cross that was meant for Barabbas. Imagine being Barabbas…a man made famous by his crimes…a man who truly deserved death…a man that was a serious threat the safety of his nation…a man that was now free. Barabbas’ freedom paved the way for Christ’s imminent death on a violent and embarrassing cross.
Why Jesus? Barabbas should have been on that cross. Barabbas should have been the one receiving the just punishment for his crimes. And yet it was Jesus on that cross. And while Barabbas was the one that deserved the cross, Jesus hung in his place.
Barabbas serves as a representation of you and I. You are Barabbas. I am Barabbas. We are the ones that deserved to hang on that cross…to be humiliated…to be punished…and yet it was Jesus.