Today's verse is John 18: 38-40: "After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, 'I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?' They cried out again, ''Not this man, but Barabbas!' Now Barabbas was a robber." My child, Pilate spent time with me, quizzing me, if I was the "King of the Jews," as the Jewish authorities claimed I had stated. I had told him that my kingdom was not of this world.
After several minutes of interrogating me, he went back outside to the Jewish officials. He had concluded that I posed no threat to the Roman empire. He waited for an answer from me that would allow him to make a decision according to Roman law, but he could not find any way I'd broken Roman law. Therefore, he told the Jewish authorities that he found on guilt in me. He exonerated me, something he continued to do several other times in the immediate future, until the pressure upon him was too great to bear.
Trying to moderate the growing anger of the Jews, Pilate offered a man named Barabbas to be set free in my place. It was the custom of Pilate to release one Jewish criminal annually, during the Passover. It was his way of trying annually to gain favor with the Jews.
Barabbas was a "robber." The term can also be translated as an insurrectionist, the picture painted by the other gospel writers as they describe Barabbas. He was a murderer too, a man who had killed Roman soldiers to eradicate their presence from Israel.
Barabbas' name literally means "son of the father." Ironically, the people wanted Barabbas released rather than the true Son of the Father!
Around three to five o'clock in the morning, I was placed in a prison, awaiting the Jewish authorities to take me to Pilate. Could it be that Barabbas was in this same prison with me, awaiting his execution the next day? Could it be that Barabbas and I had precious moments together, a time when I shared with him that my life would be given for his? Could it be that Barabbas was the first human being to understand fully the idea of substitutionary atonement? Was he one of the first to realize that I, Jesus, would need to die in his place so that he could live and be set free?
My child, I died in your place too. I gave my life on that cross so that you would not have to face eternal death. I took your sins upon my body on the cross so that you could live forever. If you believe in me, your sins are forever forgiven. You now have my righteousness living in your heart. You are sinless, perfect, in my Father's eyes. You are now free from the power of sin and death.
My love for you is beyond anything you could ever hope for or imagine. If you ever doubt it, look at my cross. Remind yourself constantly, like Barabbas, I died in your place.
You can trust me today.