Wednesday, April 1, 2015
The One Not There
Three men died that Friday on the hill called Golgotha. When Jesus was nailed to His cross and endured the painful thud as it dropped into a hole dug to hold it, He only had to look to either side to see two others on their way to death. Like others who have shared this journey with Jesus, they have remained nameless through the centuries. All we know is that both were criminals who by the law's decree deserved to die. One died shaking his fist in the face of God and the other died with a hope of seeing the face of God in paradise.
One who was not there but who should have been there was Barabbas. Guilty of both insurrection and murder, he was living on that first century's death row without any hope of appeal when the mob in Pilate's court cried out for him to be released instead of Jesus. A custom of the day provided for the release of one prisoner on that day and the crowd incited by evil called for Barabbas to be set free. So, Jesus goes to the cross. He goes to a cross that had been prepared for the murderer. The one not there on that hill who should have been there was Barabbas. Jesus took his place.
And so now we finally behold the cross with all its horror. It was not just any cross, but the cross of Jesus, our Savior. According to the divine plan, Jesus in some mysterious way took Himself the consequences and punishment for the sins of all the people of the world. The Word tells us that what we rightfully deserve for our sins is death--separation from God and all that is good and holy. Instead of you and me dying, it is Jesus. On that day He literally took the place of Barabbas. If we stop and ponder what we are seeing as we watch the agony and death of Jesus, we will surely realize that as sure as Jesus took Barabbas's place, He took my place, and your place, too. Like Barabbas who was not there but should have been, so is it true of each one of us.