As we approach Easter, it’s important to focus our hearts on the cross again. Often, I’ll intentionally observe lent, choosing to abstain from certain things that take my eyes off Christ. This year has been challenging though. I suppose it’s a spirit is willing, flesh is weak, type situation.
I want to, I really do. But just haven’t been able to. My mental margin is somewhat nil from so many other things pulling in every direction. It’s challenging to focus. So I choose to live in the grace that doesn’t come by earning! Hallelujah!
However, as hard as its been this year to “get into it” I officially give up trying to manage all the nagging things to the neglect of what’s most important. I desire to live in the amazing grace I can’t earn while also re-focusing intentionally on the Easter season. Fully and with both eyes up, pressing in on my Saviour. Boy do I need it.
For this reason, I’m choosing to narrow in on certain aspects of the Cross each week until Easter.
This week’s focus is; Christ as my substitute.
And as I read Matthew I see that one of the first instance’s we witness this substitution taking place is the moment Jesus stands beside Barabbas. You can read it here.
Pontius Pilate has just declared Jesus innocent, but in order to keep a silly tradition he must release one prisoner at Passover. And so there stands Jesus; pure, sinless and falsely charged next to Barabbas; notorious, known murderer. A perplexed Pilate asks the angry mob who should go free…”The king of the Jews”? Or the murderer?
With the chief priests and the elders persuasion the crowd calls for Barabbas to be freed. Sinners calling for the freedom of a fellow sinner. This is the embodiment of sin itself. The desire to see darkness and evil run freely, unencumbered by anything that would shed light, peace and justice.
Barabbas is released. Wickedness unchained. While Jesus stay’s in shackles. The Son of God immediately take’s the place of a murderous revolutionary. The light of the world stands in the place of darkness.
Pilate leaves the fate of the “king of the Jews” in the hands of a blood-thirsty mob. And the ungodly call for His murder. Sin breeding sin. It’s a sess-pool of unrighteousness at this point. And its just the beginning. The shadow that will fall on all those who called for His death is something they could never had prepared for. For they know nothing of what they’ve done.
The blameless one pay’s the price, so the sinner can walk free.
This story begins as Jesus substituting the punishment for Barabbas. And it ends with Him atoning for us all. Even that chanting crowd.
His blood poured out to repair the damage. The damage a murder creates in the heat of the moment. And the corruption of a faulty trial carried out by mob-mentality. The devastation of thievery on the poor. And every other form of sin that takes root in the life of every single human past, present and future.
He stood and received what we deserved to receive.
It is the greatest atrocity the world has ever known. And yet it’s our only hope. Which is the great conundrum of the faith. I hate it and I love it.
As we approach the throne of Christ this Easter season, whether you’re observing lent or not, take time to turn your attention to the One that bore your sin. Let us never become too busy to remember or too bored to care.
Let the shocking sacrifice of your Saviour stir you up again. Allow its offense to rub harshly against your sensibilities. Know the outrage.
And then give thanks.
“Up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn, walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn, facing for sinners, death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss,
Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer, seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree, wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding, dying for me,
“Father, forgive them,” my Savior prayed, even while His lifeblood flowed fast away, praying for sinners while in such woe, no one but Jesus ever loved so,
Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer, seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree, wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading, blind and unheeding, dying for me”
Lyrics: Avis m. Christiansen (1920), music: Harry D. Loes