Words are insufficient in themselves to fully contain the power of the true story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The story of Christ’s death transcends human words and concepts to communicate across all times, cultures, and languages. This Sunday, after we read through the passion narrative, we asked the question, “Who am I in this story?”
I find myself identifying with multiple people within the narrative. However this Sunday, I felt myself identifying mostly with Barabbas, whose name, ironically, means, “son of the father.” The text says that Barabbas was a violent rebellious man. He led an insurrection against the Romans and in the process had committed murder. He had blood on his hands. The Romans utilized many methods in punishing the guilty (beheading for example). But the Romans reserved the cruel torturous death of the cross for low-life criminals and rebels against the state. Under the law, Barabbas deserved the ultimate penalty of death on a cross.
Yet he went scot free.
Pilate states on three separate occasions that Jesus is “not guilty.” Jesus was innocent of the charges of insurrection and rebellion that the religious leaders and crowds leveled against him. In fact Jesus was not guilty of anything except love. Yet the Son of the Father receives the full penalty of the law. He dies on the cross meant for Barabbas. He dies the bloody painful death of a low-life rebel.
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Peter 3:18, NIV)."
I am Barabbas, the “son of the Father”, who has rebelled against God’s good purposes for me and have committed sins deservedly condemned under God’s law. “The wages of sin is death...” But the Father loved me so much that he sent his Son who willingly laid down his life in my place so that I go free. So that I am free to live for God forever, “...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23).”
May we all be a Barabbas, a freed “son of the Father,” this Holy Week.
Father Kurt is the Pastor of Light of Christ Anglican Church in Georgetown, TX