Barabbas is Us

Good Friday
         ‘And Pilate said, I find no case against this man. Do you want me to release Barabbas or Jesus? And they shouted, ‘We want Barabbas!’  
        Beloved in Christ, today is Good Friday. Today I wish to ask you about this man, Barabbas.  Barabbas was a man who had done evil, he was deserving of death.  He knew it, and everyone knew it.  Yet somehow,  he gets set free from the debt he owes for his crimes,  and Jesus dies in his place.   
        Now this should sound familiar.  We ourselves were in the prison of our sins; we owe a debt we cannot pay, we deserve eternal death; But Jesus pays the debt for us, with his life.  ‘I will bring your prisoners forth from the prison,’  says the prophet Zechariah (9:11-12), ‘Return, O prisoners of hope.’   
        We know that the entire world was in the bondage of the devil. And we know, that when we are in sin, we are slaves,  we are addicts to evil,  we are in bondage and in prison with Barabbas.   
        Who is Barabbas?  He is every one who is guilty of rebellion against God.  He is each person who has sinned. He is us,  that lonely, hopeless figure in jail, waiting with fear for the penalty he knows he deserves.   That night, he hardly slept; the horror of crucifixion weighing on him: ‘O unhappy man that I am! Who will deliver me from the fear of this death?’ (Rom 7:24)  
        Barabbas, was awakened to the noise in the Praetorium.  Looking through the prison bars –  he wonders,  what is going on out there.   He hears voices; one heated and angry,  the other – good, and kind, and – serene.
        ‘Are you, or are you not the king of the Jews? Your own people have delivered you to me. What have you done????!!!!! Who area you?!’     
        – ‘My kingdom is not of this world.   
        Barabbas wonders; ‘Who is this? this man is surely innocent.  I know I am guilty, but Jesus: Where is your kingdom?  I would like to be in your kingdom.  But I am a sinful man, who deserves to die for his crimes.  
        And Pilate said: ‘You have a custom that I should release someone to you at Passover. ‘Do you wish that I release the One called the Christ – or Barabbas?’  
        ‘Or Barabbas!!?’ I do not deserve to be released.  And they shouted: ‘Release Barabbas!! The Christ must die.   And so the exchange is made.  The innocent dies, that the guilty might go free. ‘I’m free!! I’m free!’ – –  
        yes Barabbas, we are free. St. Paul says, ‘God has demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Rom 5:8)  
        When he exchanged his life for him, do you think Barabbas loved Jesus? Do you think he was grateful?  St. Alphonsus says, if a friend of ours or a relative died in our place – so that we may live, how could we live without loving that person.[i]  
        Jesus wanted to die for us. He did not die for servants or slaves, he died for his children.  We are sons and daughters of God,[ii] we are sons of Our Father.   It is no coincidence, that the name Barabbas means,  ‘Son of the Father.’   Barabbas is us.   
        ‘No greater love has a man than that he lay down his life for his friend. How can we repay Jesus for dying on the cross for us? We have to give him our life.

[i] St. Alphonsus, Preparation for Death, p. 342.

[ii] Romans 8:15 you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

 

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