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Barabbas and us
April 13, 2009
by Rev. Paul Marggraf, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Delan
In the Bible, Moses said in Deuteronomy 33:25, “Your strength will equal your days.”

Do you remember Barabbas from Good Friday morning? He was the murdering insurrectionist that Pontius Pilate set free when the crowd demanded that Jesus be crucified. You can read more about him in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 27.

Barabbas in not one of our favorite characters in the Holy Week stories of Jesus. Most of us would rate him only slightly better than Judas.

We don’t like the idea of criminals going unpunished. The name “Barabbas” conjures up a picture of a greasing-looking crook, snickering his way out the back door of the jail while an innocent man is led off to die.

Yet Barabbas is a picture of us. By nature, we are all criminals in the eyes of God. Perhaps we are not guilty of crimes against society, but we have broken God’s law countless times.

We have much more in common with Barabbas than we would like to admit. The truth is not pretty.

That puts Barabbas in a different light. What we see in him is a reflection of ourselves. His story is our story.

In fact, the whole “passion” story of Jesus is a story of the guilty going unpunished. By his death on the cross, Jesus made it possible for a world of crooks to go free. When Barabbas walked out the jail door, we might just as well have walked out with him.

Barabbas will never be our favorite character in the story of Lent. He shouldn’t be. And if we recognize the unsavory similarity between him and us, we may like him even less.

Perhaps we will like ourselves less, too. Yet, that should only make us love the Savior all the more!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.