Matthew 27:26 - "Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified."
So, what would you have done? Ya know, if you had seen Barabbas on the street after his release? I mean, he was in prison for murder. But he was set free because of Jesus. So, what would you have done?
I have some friends in law enforcement. They're responsible for some people being in jail. They also often work traffic shifts, and sometimes they help traffic get in and out of large churches. Consistently, they speak of seeing someone pulling into or leaving church who they had helped to put into prison. Every policeman I know says that it warms their heart when they see someone whose life has been turned around by Jesus.
But, the question is still out there: what would you do? Ya know, if you saw Barabbas on the street after his release? He was in prison for murder. But he was set free because of Jesus. So, what would you do? Would you, like my police friends, rejoice in seeing someone have their life turned around by Jesus? Or would you harbor ill feelings, and say that they should be locked up forever?
Now, what if I told you that "Barabbas" literally means "son of the Father" and more broadly means "child of God"? In other words, what if I told you that Barabbas represents all of us? Ya know, Barabbas represents the fact that all of us are set free, in spite of our sin, because of Jesus. Jesus bears the penalty of our sin so that we don't have to.
God tells us plainly, in the Bible, for example, in Luke 15, that God rejoices and angels rejoice and heaven rejoices when someone's life is turned around because of Jesus. Luke 15 has the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Wayward or Prodigal Son. God rejoices when the lost are found, when the imprisoned are set free, and the wayward child comes home.
So, though it broke God's heart to see his own son suffer, it warmed God's heart that Barabbas and every other child of God is set free because of Jesus. And that's what God would stir in us. When we see Barabbas or any other human being, because we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, God would have us see each other like God does (and my police friends do). God would have us rejoice in the new beginnings that are made possible for us all both through the death of Jesus and also through our faith in Him and His love.
Dear God, help us to see each other and all people through the eyes of your love. Amen!
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson