In today’s Bible Journaling I was reading my Just for Today devotional that I get from my former place of work, TCT, which is a Christian Television Network that airs nationwide and in several countries. Today’s devotion focused on Luke 23:18, “And they cried out all together, saying, ‘Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas.’” The devotion writer spoke about how Jesus took Barabbas’ place and was crucified. Barabbas was guilty, there is no doubt of that, but Jesus willingly took his place and Barabbas was set free. The devotion writer sets up a similar scene whereby we are the accused and are sitting in a cell awaiting the final judgement. We hear the executioner as he comes to pronounce our sentence. We expect him to say, “You’re guilty and the punishment is death.”
But instead he says, “You are free to go. Jesus took your place.” He opens the cell door and we are able to walk away free!
What an awesome description of salvation! We are all sinners and guilty before a Holy and Just God, but because of His great love for us, He provided a way for us to go free and escape the penalty of death that sin requires.
If we do a little digging, we find that Barabbas was one awful dude! Not only was he guilty of causing an insurrection, but he also was guilty of murder. Not a nice guy to be around. According to Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary, Barabbas means son of shame, confusion. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that the name means, “son of the father. i.e. of the master or teacher.” So, it is possible that he was a Rabbi’s son. And yet, he became a notorious criminal. From what I read, he was the worst of the worst. And yet, God in His mercy and grace, allowed Barabbas to go free and sent Jesus to take the penalty for Barabbas, and not just for him, but for all of us because of our sin. Barabbas deserved the death penalty, but God stepped in!
We, like Barabbas, deserve the penalty of death for our sins. However, God’s grace steps in, and the prison doors open up and we are set free! Because of God’s great love for us, He has provided salvation and grace, unmerited favor!
But sometimes we think that we must change in order to receive salvation. No, the Bible says that we are to come, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21 KJV) A “whosoever”, that means you, without any fixing up or getting cleaned up before you accept Christ. He wants you just as you are! He will do the work of cleansing and renewing.
God’s grace allows us to go free because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin by dying on a Cross, shedding His blood as a sacrifice, then being buried and rising again three days later, then ascending to the Father where He intercedes for us! All He asks is that we come to Him! He will take away our sins, declare us “not guilty”, and bring freedom into our hearts and lives. We are made right with Him when we ask for forgiveness, accept Christ’s death on the Cross as payment for our sins, and endeavor to live for Him to the end of our days. All we need do is pray and ask Him!