The story of Barabbas is the perfect illustration of the doctrine of penal substitution. His only appearance in Scripture is found in 15:6-15.
The following devotion was written by Michael Kelley. (Published on his blog, Forward Progress, on March 21, 2016. Kelley is the Director of Discipleship at LifeWay Resources).
“I Am Barabbas”
He’s barely mentioned in the Bible, and yet his story, maybe more than any other, serves to explain the gospel. He is Barabbas.
Or rather, I am Barabbas.
Here is what we know about this man:
He was a rebel. One of his crimes was insurrection; he led a rebellion against the rulers of the land, the Romans.
I, too, am a rebel. Despite the benevolent rule of my King, I have both willingly and by my very nature participated in heinous acts of rebellion against the rightful rule of the God of the Universe.
He was a murderer. Apparently, during his rebellion against the ruling authorities, someone died, perhaps at his very hand.
I, too, am a murderer. Not just of my fellow man, having wished them harm, but of Jesus Christ whose life I have chanted for through my varied and sundry acts of despicable sin. I have chanted along with the crowd, “Crucify! Crucify!” for I saw Him as a threat to my commitment to my own desires.
He, though guilty, was released and an innocent was punished in his stead. Barabbas was shocked to find that somehow, some way, all charges against him had been dropped. Someone other than him was to die that day, though surely he deserved the punishment.
I, too, have been released. The punishment that was rightfully due to me has been handed down to another. Someone – an innocent man – has been crucified in my place.
I am Barabbas. You, too, are Barabbas.
And now we stand with this man. Suddenly freed from condemnation. Blinking our prison-darkened eyes in the light of the sun of liberty. Facing the penalty of death, we now surprisingly stand free. Free to work. Free to enjoy. Free to live.
What will I do with this freedom? And what will you do with your freedom?
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