Luke chapter 23

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
Isaiah 53:7-8

This chapter is a case of the guilty versus the innocent. In fact, Luke goes out of his way to make it clear that Jesus was innocent of the crimes for which He was accused. I counted at least seven times in this passage where Jesus was determined to be without guilt. Pilate, a pagan Roman politician declared Him so. Herod, a corrupt Jewish puppet king couldn’t find any fault in Him. Even a condemned criminal, hanging on the cross next to Jesus, clearly saw the innocence of Jesus.

But there He hung. The Just for the unjust. The innocent for the guilty. The sinless One in the place of sinful men.

You see this theme of innocence and guilt throughout this chapter. Even in Luke’s recounting of the release of Barabbas. Here was a man, a condemned insurrectionist and murderer, who is chosen by the people for release over Jesus. The one who was really guilty was set free. Yet the One who was guiltless was condemned. In doing some research on this passage I discovered something I had never seen this before regarding Barabbas’ name. It means “son the the father” in Aramaic. Isn’t it interesting that this “son” was set free while the Son of God was sent to die in his place?

Another glimpse into the innocense and guilt theme is found in the two criminals who were crucified on either side of Jesus. Three men received the death sentence that day, yet only two deserved it. Jesus was quiltless, yet He suffered the same humiliating, agonizing fate. Even one of the criminals could see the difference when he exclaimed, “We indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong!” – Vs 41.

Jesus was completely sinnless and guiltless, yet He died in my place and yours. Sinless perfection took on the penalty for our sins. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul reminds us that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus suffered a criminal’s death in the company of criminals.
Jesus died while a murderer was spared.
Jesus took the place of a guilty man.
Jesus was declared guilty allowing Barabbas to go free.

But isn’t that exacty what Jesus has done for you and me? Like Barabbas, I have been allowed to talk away from my death sentence a free man. Someone else paid my penalty. Someone else took my punishment. Someone else suffered the pain meant for me. Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). And “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to rrighteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

We don’t know what happened to Barabbas. But we do know he walked away that day a free man. Did he return to his life of rebellion and murder? Or was he forever changed by the events of that day? We have no way of knowing  But the real question is whether you and I have been changed by the events of that day? Do we fully recognize and appreciate what Jesus did for us that day? You see, we were just as deserving of death as Barabbas was. We were on death row awaiting the inevitable death sentence. Then Jesus showed up and He took our place. He sacrificed His perfectly sinless life for our sin-saturated one. He took the nails meant for us. He suffered the abuse that was rightfully mine to bear. But has that selfless, sacrificial, substitionary act changed us forever? Do we really see our guilt up against His innocense? Until we do, we will never fully appreciate what He has done for us.

Because He did, I can truly be called Bar Abba – a son of the Father. Fully forgiven and completely free!

Father, thank you for sending Your Son to die in my place. Jesus, thank you for sacrificing your sinless life for my sinful one. Thank you for enduring death so that I might enjoy life. I can never repay You, but I hope to thank You by living my life in such a way that it brings glory and honor to You. I owe everything to You! Thank You!!!! Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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