John 18:28-40: We Are Barabbas
December 15, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Irony and drama—the drama of salvation. The religious hand Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. Pilate, representative of the Roman Empire, the pagan empire that they so despised. And, ironically again, they do not ever enter the “governor’s headquarters” so that “they would not be defiled” (18:28). Here they are committing religious murder, charging an innocent man with a crime he did not commit, convicting him of death through trumped up charges without any due process of law at a kangaroo court, handing him over to the occupying forces, like Vichy regime traitors handing over a rescuer of the nation to the occupying powers—and they are worried about defiling themselves! But such is blindness, and especially religious pride. A man can go to church, worship and praise his God, yet kill his fellow man, wound the love of his life, and hurt his children. Be wary of the cold knife of religious pride. It kills the unwary, mesmerizes the foolish, and catches the undiscerning in its bleeding jaws of death. Do not strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
And then by contrast, the wonderful drama of salvation. Pilate can find nothing wrong in what Jesus has done. Jesus is there bearing witness to the truth. Pilate, a cynical man of the world, replies “what is truth?” (18:38). Postmodernism thinks it is new, but it is only the philosophy of decadence. An immoral man denies truth, for the immorality that he does is untruthful. He must either accept truth and fight his immorality, or deny truth and keep his immorality.
But the drama is not yet finished. Given the choice to set Jesus free, they choose instead Barabbas, a revolutionary, probably condemned for his deeds of rebel murder.
“A murderer they save, The Prince of Life they slay.”*
And yet that is precisely the drama of salvation. We are Barabbas, and we are set free. And Jesus takes our place.
*My Song Is Love Unknown by Samuel Crossman, 1664.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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