Devotions

Monthly Archives: March, 2018

Barabbas

Delivery Plan • Barabbas
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

In 2004, Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie, The Passion of the Christ, opened in theaters all over the world. If you happened to be one of the few that did not see the film, go right now and watch it on Netflix or rent the DVD. It was an amazing, extremely graphic adaptation of the life of Jesus leading up to and including His crucifixion. The film grossed over $300 million dollars! Practically the whole world watched and cried through this heart-wrenching Gospel account. I cried throughout the movie like the rest of the sold out crowd in that theater, but the most powerful scene to me was the one where Jesus was sentenced to death. When Pontius Pilate asked who he should set free, the crowd went crazy yelling for the release of Barabbas.  I watched Barabbas, the rebellious rioter and murderer sentenced to death, set free from his shackles and impending brutal death. He then ran out of Pilate’s Hall yelling, “I’m free, I’m free!” Jesus took on Barabbas’ shackles and was whipped, beaten, and dragged through the ridiculing crowd being led to His death. I was so overcome with intense emotion. The thought that I am Barabbas and had also been sentenced to death and set free, hit me fresh in the face and my heart. I had heard this account my entire life.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of eleven and never strayed away from my faith. But at that moment, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I was more grateful than I had ever been. I was again reminded that this amazing transfer was indeed the most beautiful exchange.

Barabbas’ story is a very important account in Scripture; this account is in all four Gospels. The name Barabbas can be broken down as “Bar” (son of) and “Abbas” (father) meaning “daddy” or “son of father.”  Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son making Him the “Son of the Father.” Barabbas was a notorious criminal, on death row.  He was guilty of insurrection (rioting and rebelling) and murder because he had rebelled against the Roman Domination of that day. The time of Jesus’ arrest came during the feast of the Passover.  It was customary to release one prisoner during this holy feast.  God in His infinite wisdom used real life examples to reveal His plan and how that plan included all mankind. You see, Barabbas represents all of us.  Even if we never incited a rebellion or killed anyone, we are still born a complete sinner in need of a Savior. We read in Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Barabbas represented all of us! He was set free, and Jesus took his and our penalty.  One of the interesting points here is that God set the vilest sinner in that day free so that we could also be set free. God can and will use whoever He wants to fulfill His plan.  Barabbas’ release or pardon, indicted Jesus, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God and sentenced Him to a cruel, horrific, death on the cross.

Scripture does not reveal what happened to Barabbas after he was set free, his supporting role in the story was finished. He fulfilled the purpose God had planned for him. He won the lottery that day, but did he win it for all eternity? Scripture does not reveal whether Barabbas put his faith in the One who took his place. Chances are he did not, or it most likely would have been included in the Gospel story.

How about you? Have you put your faith in the One who took your place?

Trading Your life, For my offenses
For my redemption, You carried all the blame
Breaking the curse, Of our condition
Perfection took our place
When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange
(Lyrics from The Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong)

Roman Soldiers

Delivery Plan • Roman Soldiers
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

Mark 15:16-20 says, “And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters) and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.”

The Roman Soldiers delivered Jesus to His death. Pilate gave Jesus over to the crowd for crucifixion in place of Barabbas. The soldiers had their orders, “Crucify Him!”

They beat Him and tortured Him. They placed a crown of thorns on His head, mocked Him, nailed Him to the cross, and killed Him. Read Matthew 27:27-31. It describes the torture even further. He was stripped, thorns placed on His head, and reeds in His hand. He was mocked, spit on, and led away to be crucified. The Roman Soldiers were wicked men, enjoying their job a little too much, casting lots to see who would get His garments.

How would you like to have a job like that? After given the order to crucify, they carried out these horrific acts to the point of death. How could they do that to any man, much less the Son of God?

This was their job, to obey the orders and to crucify people. There was no emotional stake. The ones they crucified meant nothing to them. They did not realize who He was until after His death. Mark 15:39 says, “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” Here we see the Centurion, the head of the Roman Soldiers who realized the truth and was changed by Jesus.

Why crucifixion? Crucifixion was a Roman death, not the Jewish custom which was stoning. Pontius Pilate gave the order. The Roman Soldiers simply carried it out.

The Roman Soldiers delivered Jesus to His death. They prepared Him by stripping Him and beating Him. They forced Him to carry His cross. They nailed Him to the boards. They tortured Him until He took His last breath. God had a plan when He sent Jesus to earth as a man. The crucifixion (and resurrection) was a fulfillment of that plan. Unknowingly, the Roman Soldiers had a part in that plan. They realized afterward what had just happened.

We are like the soldiers; our sin caused Jesus to be led to the cross to cover our sins.

Caiaphas

Delivery Plan • Caiaphas
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

Have you ever wondered how an evil man could be a part of God’s plan? How can someone like that ever be used for the glory of God? One such person is recorded in John 11:45-53.

“Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.”

Caiaphas was the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ death. He was a Sadducee and a bitter enemy of Jesus. Caiaphas was one of the main advocates to plot to kill Jesus. After many people started to follow Jesus, the Pharisees had a meeting on trying to figure out what to do about Him. Jesus was stirring up all sorts of trouble for the Pharisees because the Gospel went against everything they were doing. The Pharisees had to figure out what to do about Jesus. Caiaphas had brought forth his plan to the group. He said it would be better for Jesus to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish. He was referring to the Romans possibly taking out the Jews. So, Caiaphas planned to kill Jesus to save the nation, but also because of the trouble Jesus was causing for the Pharisees.

Later on in the story, we see Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas before He was taken to Pilate. There he most likely would have been questioned by the Sanhedrin and Pharisees before they decided to take Him to Pilate and ultimately decided to crucify Him.

We could wonder how Caiaphas could be a part of God’s ultimate plan. However, Caiaphas was a part of the plan. God allowed Caiaphas to have a strong opposition to Jesus to ultimately fulfill the prophecies of Christ’s death on the cross. There would have to be an opposition to Christ for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

We may wonder how we can learn something from Caiaphas today? I think we can take that sometimes we need to trust in God’s plan and who He has allowed in positions of power. God had allowed Caiaphas to have his seat of power to orchestrate the ultimate plan of salvation. Today there are tons of people in power. We may not always like or believe in them, but we must remember God has allowed them to have that position and it can be part of a greater plan that we do not even know yet.

Religious Leaders

Delivery Plan • Religious Leaders
Mark O’Connor | Student Director

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, John 11:48-50 says, “‘If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’”

Soon it would be time for Jesus to finish His mission which included death. God used the religious leaders to fulfill prophecy. John 11:51-53 continues, “He did not say this of his own accord, but being the high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” It is humbling to realize that God does not just use the “super spiritual” to fulfill His work. He even used people who were against Him. God can even use a lost individual to prophesy for Him.

We read in the beginning in Mark 26:57 about Jesus being led to Caiaphas and the council. He had been arrested and knew what was coming in the day ahead. For some time now they have been trying to rally against him and levy charges. The High Council saw that their goal is now attainable. This is a great reminder that the crowd can be wrong.

Matthew 26:59-60 says, “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward.”

There were no charges to be brought against Jesus. Knowing this, they were seeking out those willing to lie about what Jesus had said or done. Not being able to do this, He spoke the truth as Jesus always does in verse 64, “Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

People are often offended and angry at the truth of the Gospel. We see a great example of this in verse 65 when the high priest tears his robe at what he feels is a blasphemous response. With this reaction to Jesus’ words, a course is set in motion that leads Jesus to Pilate, and His eventual death and resurrection.

This anger at truth continues today in our culture. The Gospel should be offensive to those who argue so emphatically against it. We will eventually face this false witness to the message of Jesus from those who seek to discredit it. This is why it is so important that we equip ourselves to face it and address it with the same love and grace that the Lord shows us when we so obviously do not deserve it.

Pilate

Delivery Plan • Pilate
Lorna Lyman | Secretary

Pontius Pilate was a Roman religious official. He was appointed to his position in 26 AD. He was governor of Judea. His two main jobs were to keep order in the country and make sure all taxes were collected and sent to Rome. He held this position for about ten years. Pilate was a stubborn, cruel man and had very little respect for the Jewish people. Most of Judea hated the Romans.

An uprising could develop quickly over a small dispute. This happened quite often during Passover. Roman governors were always present during the Passover, and Pilate wanted to keep the peace. Pilate was very careful about avoiding the Jewish religious leaders unless they threatened him personally.

The Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to Pilate’s residence hoping that Pilate would grant his execution. John 18:29-30 says, “So Pilate went outside to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered him, ‘If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.’” Under the Roman law they did not have enough evidence that Jesus is guilty of any capital offense; therefore, they are having a hard time convincing Pilate that Jesus should be put to death.

The story continues in John chapter 18:33-38. Pilate and Jesus had a conversation. Pilate started to question Jesus if He was the King of the Jews. Jesus explained to him that He is a King, but His kingdom is not of this world. If He were of this world, His servants would fight to save Him. Pilate asked, “So you are a King?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king” and went on to tell Pilate that His purpose of coming to earth was to bear witness to the truth. Pilate then questioned Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilate fails to see that he is standing face to face with the One who said, “I am the truth.” Pilate is spiritually blind to the truth that is right in front of him. Pilate is about to deliver Jesus to His death.

Pilate lacked interest in Jesus’ case and just wanted it to go away. Unfortunately, he is up against an angry mob. It was the custom at the Feast of the Passover for Pilate to release a prisoner. Since he did not think Jesus was guilty, he decided to give the people two choices: Jesus, the king of the Jews or Barabbas a robber and a murderer. The Jewish chief priests and elders had gathered enough people to be on their side to ask for Barabbas to be freed and for Jesus to be killed. The angry crowd shouted for Jesus to be crucified and for Barabbas to be freed.

Pilate then has a second conversation with Jesus (John 19:9-11). He asks Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus does not answer. Pilate asks, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” Once again Pilate remained convinced that Jesus was not guilty. He continued to try and release Jesus. The Jews and religious leaders continued to oppose Pilate and shout, “Crucify him.” There was an uprising starting, and if he did not handle it properly, it would harm his political career. Finally, Pilate feeling like he had no other choice, gave into their demand and released Barabbas. He took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd (Matthew 27:24). This was a symbolic gesture in that he did not believe Jesus deserved death and did not approve of His crucifixion. However, this does not release him from his guilt for taking part in the death of Jesus. He delivered Jesus over to the Jews to be put to death, and he aided in their plans by having Roman soldiers conduct the crucifixion. Pilate delivered Jesus to His death knowing that Jesus was innocent.

Without Pilate sentencing Jesus to death, Jesus would not have fulfilled Scripture that he had to die on the cross for our sins. It was to restore the fullness of the righteousness of God that was planned for us. God ordained Jesus to go to Calvary.



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