Good Friday Sermon—Hostage Exchange – Barabbas and Jesus
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
In the news from this past week we read that in TREBES, France a French police officer offered himself up to an extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage. That woman is alive today because of that officer. The officer has died of his injuries. Col. Arnaud Beltrame was among the first officers to respond to the attack on the supermarket in the south of France on Friday. His death, announced by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, raises the toll to four. The gunman was also killed, and 15 people were injured in the attack.
That makes me think of what Luther called the great exchange mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Bar Abbas — his name in English would be “son of the father.” Hmm. Think of that! That is what and who Jesus is—Son of God, Son of the Father. God in human flesh.
Jesus’ whole purpose in life was to come as one of us and take our place—to take our sin upon Himself and bear it all the way to the cross. So, in a very real sense, Barabbas’ name is generic—on purpose—so that we could insert our own names for his and then see that Jesus took our place as a prisoner to sin and death. Jesus took our place for the punishment our sin deserved. Jesus took our sin and died on the cross for us. The wonder and mystery of this all is that through His seeming defeat He defeated death instead. His resurrection three days later proves His victorious death on our behalf. Jesus traded places with us and exchanges His life and righteousness for our rags and death. No wonder this day is called “Good Friday” by Christians down through the ages. It is indeed good. Not that Jesus died, mind you, but that He died victoriously and gave us life, freedom, and hope in exchange. Paul calls this God’s wisdom. It was God’s plan from the start, even before the world began. And the powers of darkness never knew what they were accomplishing through their violent act of murder!
I Corinthians 2:6-9
But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him…”
Check out the excellent Skit Guys video entitled “Barabbas” through www.skitguys.com.