We only encounter Barabbas in the story of the crucifixion – other than that he’s an enigma. From what little is said about him (Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19) it appears he was a robber and also a murderer – perhaps in an insurrection as he was being put to death by the Romans. He was not a good man if there be such a thing.
Yet, one morning, perhaps on the very day he was to be executed, the jailer shows up keys in hand and unlocks his cell and says, “You’re free to go.” I would imagine Barabbas was shocked. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any “Why? I am about to get what I deserve. Thanks, but no thanks!”
I think there’s a valuable contrast here between Barabbas and the rest of us humans. He is a representative of a prisoner who was freed because someone else took his place.
How did Barabbas deal with his unexpected, but welcome, freedom? We don’t know. We don’t know if he changed his ways or not. What we do know is that he accepted the words of the jailer and skedaddled out of the prison complex. Someone has given him a get out of jail free card and he grabbed it with a tight fist and took off. He accepted the gift.
That’s where the contrast comes into play. We, too, were offered a gift of life and pardon but we spend our time trying to earn it or to pay for it through some self-denial or other heroic action rather than just saying, “Thank you!” and grabbing it like the lifeline it is.
I like what Max Lucado said, “…one of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace. There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift. We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.
“Why do we do that? The only reason I can figure is pride. To accept grace means to accept it’s necessity, and most folks don’t like to do that. To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.” – No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado.
I don’t know about you (well, that’s not true – I DO know about you because you’re human like me) but I need that same Get Out of Jail Free card and I will grab it with both hands. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to be like Barabbas in that regard. I’ve tried the rules and systems and self-recrimination and found that they just don’t work. They drove me in desperation to the doctrine of grace and it set me free.
Be like Barabbas – accept the gift – and you’ll have freedom!
PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for standing in for us and giving us a way out of our desperation and death. Thank you for your grace that gives us a freedom most precious! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>