I Am Barabbas

gavelIn the classic movie Spartacus, Kirk Douglas plays a slave who leads a revolt against the Roman Empire. When he and his men are finally caught, the Roman authorities want the ringleader of the rebellion and they ask who is Spartacus? As Douglas stands to identify himself as the leader, man after man stands saying “I am Spartacus.”

The New Testament tells us of another insurrectionist…a man by the name of Barabbas. He too had broken Roman law and rebelled. He had revolted against the Empire, robbed, and murdered for his cause. He had now been caught, tried, and found guilty. He was condemned to death because of his transgressions. No appeal was left for him. It was only a matter of time and time was running out.

Inject into that equation, a man by the name of Jesus. He also had been arrested, but the Roman Governor Pilate found no guilt in Him. Torn between political pressure and his own investigation, Pilate attempted to placate the angry mob by offering them a choice between Barabbas and Jesus. The crowd called for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified. Many suggest that Jesus would be hung on the cross prepared for Barabbas. An innocent man died in the place of one guilty and condemned.

I am not Spartacus, but I am Barabbas. I have rebelled against the sovereign Creator of the universe. I have revolted against Him and gone my own way (Isaiah 53:6). I have taken what is His and used it for myself. I have murdered in my heart by being angry in unjust ways (Matthew 5:22). I too am guilty, and my guilt justifies my condemnation. Death is a certainty. But thankfully, Jesus died in my place. The innocent bore the punishment of the guilty.

The Bible says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV).

I am guilty. I am condemned. But, Jesus took my place. He paid the price for my sin. He died that I might be set free. I am no longer dead in the trespasses and sins in which I once walked (Ephesians 2:1-2). I am alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am Barabbas. And so are you. We are all guilty and condemned. Yet, God in His great love for us provided a substitute. An innocent man died in our place. Our debt has been paid. Our crimes have been paid for. Justice is done and the sentence has been carried out. We have been released from the power and the penalty of sin. In Christ, we are free. In Him, we are alive. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

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Nobody’s Perfect

I don’t know who first said “nobody’s perfect” (and apparently neither does Google), but he or she must have been pretty smart. Because, it does indeed seem that no one is perfect. We are all flawed in some way. Our imperfections show in so many areas of our lives. Our attitude, our choices, our behavior and our performance all speak to our imperfection in some way or another. And, almost all of us understand and accept this. Or do we?

It seems as if we all accept that no one is perfect, but we often demand that others be perfect. If nobody’s perfect, then that means there are no perfect people. And, if there are no perfect people, that means there are no perfect spouses, no perfect children, no perfect parents, no perfect teachers, no perfect athletes, no perfect neighbors, no perfect nurses, no perfect servers, so on and so forth.

Now before you think I am justifying anything and everything under the banner of “nobody’s perfect,” I’m not. And, I’d encourage you to quit excusing away your behavior under that banner as well. We may not be perfect, but we can strive to be better. Paul puts it this way, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2, ESV)

What I am trying to encourage us to do in light of all of our obvious imperfections is to show a little more grace. If God has poured His grace into our lives because we have sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), should we not at least try to demonstrate the same kind of grace towards other imperfect people? I’m not talking about justifying someone’s misdeeds or enabling them to continuing perpetrating them. I’m simply reminding us that as imperfect recipients of God’s grace, we would do well to show grace to other imperfect people. It may make a huge difference in their lives. It definitely will make one in ours.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

The Difference

Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees.  So, be sure not to miss the point in the passage famously paraphrased this week.   In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ESV).

So, what’s the point?  Sin…any sin…every sin separates us from God.  And, Jesus is sufficient to forgive us and cleanse us from sin…any sin…every sin.  It is Jesus who makes the difference in our lives in our standing with God.  Jesus and Jesus alone.