Release Barabbas!

Lou Lotz

READ : Luke 23:13-25

“Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (v. 18)

I wonder what became of Barabbas. I wonder if he witnessed the crucifixion. If you knew that another man had taken your place on the cross, and the execution was happening right now, just a stone’s throw outside the city wall, wouldn’t you go and see? Wouldn’t you be curious?

I can imagine Barabbas at Calvary. He’d wondered what had become of his two friends back in the dungeon. Now he knew. But the man in the middle—surely Barabbas studied him. He was a crimson wreck, hanging up there between heaven and earth, as though neither one wanted him. Slowly the truth percolated into Barabbas’s head: he was witnessing his own crucifixion. That was his cross. Those were his spikes. We sing songs about Jesus dying in our place but for Barabbas that was literally true.

Whatever became of Barabbas? The Bible doesn’t say. Maybe he became a Christian. Maybe he got himself crucified for some other crime—justice has a way of catching up with people. But whatever his outcome, Barabbas may have been the first person ever to understand a great Christian truth: Jesus died in our place.

Jesus died in our place. That was my cross. Those were my nails. Like the song says, “Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”


Lord, thank you for taking my place.