The Bible says: ‘With one voice they cried out, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’ (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder)’ (vv.18-19 NIV). Barabbas was a ‘notorious prisoner’ (Matthew 27:16 ESV) but still the people chose for Him to be released. Imagine how he must have felt, sat in that prison having been found guilty, and now about to face his punishment. We may not be notorious criminals, but we all make mistakes and we all fall short of God’s best. We’re all tempted and we can all sin. Just like Barabbas, we don’t deserve freedom. But we have it. And that’s all because of the grace of God. The devil wants to make us think that our sin means we’re imprisoned and trapped. But God’s already overcome. We’ve been released, just like Barabbas, because Jesus took our place. He died instead of us. Christ took away all our sins. All of them. He took them to the top of a hill called Calvary. He died on the cross, and our sins died with Him. The Bible says: ‘Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear’ (Romans 3:24-25 MSG). So let’s never forget the incredible gift of freedom from God. Because of Jesus, we too have been released.
Spend some time reflecting on the fact that Jesus took your place. Why not listen to the hymn ‘When I survey’ – the lyrics may help you to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice.