This painting is in the narthex at St. Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. To accentuate the profound cruelty of the piece outlining the final hours of Jesus’ life, the composition is set slightly off-balance by an incline along the ground line. The freed Barabbas towers over the beaten Christ, Who lies bloody under the hand of the Roman soldier. The other two thieves who will be crucified with Jesus stand in the background, while Pilate washes his hands of the situation in back of Barrabas. The whole perspective of the painting points downward toward Christ and leads to the upward perspective of Jesus on the cross. description: St. Andrew’s Chapel

We also stand guilty of murder, in cosmic treason against God Himself. How? At Pentecost after Jesus’ crucifixion, Apostle Peter stated that all of us nailed Him to the Cross (Acts 2:36). Each of us, by necessitating His blood be spilled to wash us of our sins, are really the ones who killed Him. Just as the Jewish throng agitated for Pilate to condemn Him, just as the Roman lictor seared His flesh with his scourge, just as the Roman soldiers pounded nails into His hands and feet, and even as the centurion thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, we brought about the death of the Son of Man, the only one Who was innocent (John 8:46, Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, I John 3:5). Dripping from our hands is the shed blood of the pure, sacrificial Lamb.

According to Acts 2, we should be found murderers and condemned to capital punishment, appointed to meet with the executioner — unless someone can assume the penalty for our sins, also. A holy God demands blood to atone for transgressions (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22).

We behold Jesus as the Lamb of God, Who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is our Passover sacrifice (I Corinthians 5:7). Jesus took on Himself the sins of all His elect from all time, and laid down his life for His sheep (John 10:15), for all those will submit to Him as Lord and Savior (I Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; 9:12; I John 2:2; etc.). Clothed in His righteousness, we now can stand before the Arbiter free of condemnation, for “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Even the ghastly sin of killing Christ is forever purged from our records. After God regenerates our hearts, we respond with repentance and faith. This faith justifies us, and then God adopts us, bringing us into His Family by His Spirit (John 3:5-6, 8; I Peter 1:23). “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source” (Hebrews 2:11). God is raising up sons and daughters in His likeness (II Corinthians 6:18).

(Romans 8:14-17) “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

After His resurrection, Jesus introduced a concept to Mary Magdalene that would have been foreign to her and everyone else during their time: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). Christ’s own sacrificial death and resurrection reconciles us to the Father, allowing us to enter into the Most Holy Place to call God our Father (Romans 5:10, Hebrews 6:19-20, 10:19-22). It is often said that “all people are God’s children,” but what is more accurate is that “children of God” is a special title that is reserved for those who are grafted into Christ (John 1:12-13, I John 3:1-3, Romans 9:8, Revelation 21:7).

Easter, systematic theology

One thought on “We are Barabbas

  1. Very well done brother. God has gifted you in a special way and I hope that you will be able to continue this ministry. This article was a reminder to me that I am Barabbas and that Roman soldier that drove the nails in His hands. I am unworthy of Christ’s love and how grateful I should be for God’s unspeakable gift!

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