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Text: Mark 15:1-20
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified (v. 15).
In Mark 10:33-34, Jesus said to his disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him.” This is exactly what happens in Mark 15.
Jesus chose to suffer and die in my place, so I should choose to live for him.
Even before his crucifixion, Jesus suffered indescribable pain and awful mockery.
- The soldiers “scourged Jesus” (v. 15). The Gospel writers don’t sensationalize the scouring of Jesus, but we shouldn’t be unaware of its savagery. Scourging “was done with a whip made up of several leather straps to which were attached sharp, abrasive items, such as nails, glass, or rocks” (Craig Evans, Mark 8:27-16:20, 484).
- “They clothed him in a purple cloak” (v. 17). The Sanhedrin mocked Jesus’ claim of divine status (14:65); the soldiers mocked Jesus’ claim of royal status.
- “Twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him” (v. 17).
- “They began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (v. 18).
- “They were striking his head with a reed” (v. 19).
- They were “spitting on him” (v. 19).
- They were “kneeling down in homage to him” (v. 19).
Who was Barabbas? Barabbas is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matt. 27:15-23; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:18-25; John 18:38b-40). According to Matthew, he was a “notorious prisoner” (Matt. 27:16). According to Mark, he had “committed murder in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7; cf. Acts 3:14). According to John, he was a “robber” (John 18:40).
In that day, there was a custom during the Passover of releasing a prisoner chosen by the people. Pilate gave the people a choice: Jesus or Barabbas. Sadly, the crowd chose Barabbas.
Imagine how Barabbas must have felt when the door of the prison was opened, and he was set free. We don't know what he did after his release. Perhaps he watched the crucifixion of Jesus. If he did, Barabbas would have thought, “I was supposed to be on that cross, but that man Jesus is dying in my place.”
It's interesting that the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Like Barabbas, all of us are either sons or daughters of a father. You and I should see ourselves in Barabbas.
1. Barabbas was a lawbreaker.
He was a man who had committed multiple crimes, including robbery, insurrection, and murder. The Bible says, “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). We have all broken God’s law. I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas.
2. Barabbas deserved punishment.
The punishment for his crimes was death. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). We deserve to be punished because of our sin. I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas.
3. Barabbas was set free because Jesus died instead of him.
Jesus was not a lawbreaker. Pilate said, “I find no guilt in him” (John 18:38). Jesus did not deserve punishment. Yet Barabbas was set free, and Jesus was crucified. The Bible says that Jesus “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus suffered and died in our place. I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas.
Second Corinthians 5:21 is one of the most important verses in the Bible: “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). On the cross, Jesus became our substitute. He took our sin so that we could receive his righteousness through faith in him.
Amazement over the words and actions is a recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel (1:27; 2:12; 5:20, 42; 6:6, 51; 9:15; 10:24, 32; 15:5, 44). Pilate was “amazed” (v. 5) when Jesus didn’t defend himself against the accusations of chief priests.
We often talk about the vastness of the universe, but have you ever stopped to consider how vast the universe really is? In 1977, two unmanned space probes were launched, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. In 1987—after a 12-year, 4 billion mile journey—Voyager 1 passed the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, completing its mission. Voyager 1 is nearly the fastest vehicle ever made. It continues to travel through space at a speed of 11 miles every second. The closest star to the earth (other than the sun) is Proxima Centauri, a little over 4 light years away. At 11 miles per second, Voyager 1 wouldn’t reach Proxima Centauri until around the year 73,500. That’s amazing.
We often talk about the love of Jesus, but how often do you stop to think about the depth of Jesus’ love.
The more we are amazed by the love of Jesus, the more our lives will glorify him.