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In My Place

In My Place
Words of Faith 3-16-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 18
[38b] With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. [39] But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"
[40] They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

The dilemma for Pilate was mostly a practical one: keep the peace. He had surely seen the popularity of Jesus just a few days earlier when He entered into Jerusalem. He was certainly aware of the devious manipulations of the high priest.
Yet Pilate's primary function was to enforce the Pax Romana-- the brutal "peace of Rome"-- and avoid any uprisings among the people. Religious festivals such as Passover brought as many as a million visitors to city. Nationalistic sentiments ran high and the crowds could get out of hand.
The high priest wanted to get rid of Jesus and put the blame on Pilate. Pilate probably had no qualms dispensing with this irritating questioner of his soul, but he did not want to be blamed by the masses for something that was really a religious matter. Most of all, he did not want to spark an uprising that would end in violence. So Pilate sought to toss the whole Jesus problem back before the leaders and people.
Apparently there was a custom of releasing one prisoner at every Passover as a means of placating the Jewish population. Pilate seized on the opportunity to appeal to the masses suggesting that he would release Jesus if they demanded it. His proposal assumed that Jesus was popular with the general crowd, which did not always favor the hierarchy. If Jesus were not released, the people would be guilty of the death of the one they called their king.
But Pilate miscalculated the attitude of the crowd at this point. Crowds are easily swayed. The religious leaders had whipped the crowd into a frenzy to ask for the death of Jesus. Instead of his release of Jesus, they demanded that of a political criminal named Barabbas.
Quite likely Barabbas was a guerrilla "resistance fighter" who had been captured by the Romans and was being held for execution. In the eyes of the people, he was considered a champion of a free Israel and possibly something of a hero. The word applied to him does not refer to a thief in the ordinary sense but to an outlaw or insurrectionist.
The name Barabbas is Aramaic, meaning "son of the father." By a strange irony the pseudo-son of the father was released, but the real Son of the Father was crucified. But there was no mistake in the fact that Jesus was substituted for this man and more importantly for every one of us born into sin and death.
What a remarkable wonder it must have been for Barabbas to go from death row to pure freedom. What an incredible experience it must have been for him to be suddenly freed and to observe that someone else was going to die in his place. Yet this is no different than the offer that is made to each one of us in the Gospel of Jesus. We are the condemned. We are insurrectionists by nature. We are the rebel children of the Father. We are the ones deserving death. Yet it is Christ Jesus who goes in our place.

O God, I give thanks that You have provided for me such that I will never die. I give thanks that You very Son has taken my place upon the cross and paid for my sin. I give thanks that I walk free. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.