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Being a Barabbas - Life of Christ Part 99

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2024 7:00 am

Being a Barabbas - Life of Christ Part 99

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Before I was a Christian, I was a student down at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Many of you know parts or all of my story, and you know that I was not exactly living what we might call an exemplary moral and ethical life in those days. As a matter of fact, I had hair out to my shoulders and love beads and didn't smell so good.

Folks, I was at the original Woodstock, as I've told you, not the BMW deal they did a couple years ago, but I mean, I was at the real one in the mud. One of the things that I was involved in those days before Jesus Christ changed my life was deeply involved in the drug culture. One of the things we got involved with down there was actually bringing drugs in from Europe. I had a friend who would go to Amsterdam a couple times a year, bring back hashish, mostly sewed into the inner lining of his overcoat.

This is before they had, you know, the sniffing dog deal. Then we would take it, buy it from him in bulk. We would cut it up, sell it in smaller quantities, and I put myself through college the last couple years selling dough.

See, you didn't know I was that bad, did you? Well, we would sell it to our fraternity brothers. We'd sell it to people that we knew in town. Well, unbeknownst to me, my name kind of became known to the law enforcement people down there in Chapel Hill after a few years. And one morning I was sleeping in bed, we were renting a house out in a fairly poor section of Chapel Hill, and there was a knock on the door. And one of the guys who was sleeping out in the living room, depending on what day of the week it was, we had different numbers of people sleeping there. But he was sleeping out in the living room and he got up and he went and opened the door and it was the police. The police asked him, I was back in the bedroom, I heard it, they said, does Lon Solomon live here? And he said, I don't know, why?

Why do you want to know? And they said, well, because we have a warrant, a federal warrant for his arrest on drug charges. We also have a search warrant, so we're planning to come in.

Now, about that time I was up looking out the window, we were up on the second floor, but I figured I could survive the jump better than I could survive what was coming through the front door. There were police all around the house. Just to cut to the chase here and tell you how the story turned out, the long and the short of it is, they had a search warrant, indeed, but they had the wrong house number on the search warrant. And my roommate was cagey enough to ask him, what's the address you've got on your search warrant? And when they told him, he said, I'm sorry, that's the house next door, you've got the wrong address on your search warrant. And so he wouldn't let them in. Now, I became a Christian about a couple weeks after this all happened.

This is true. Now, it wasn't automatically connected, but it wasn't a bad idea, it seemed to me, to consider a change. But let me tell you what ended up happening. They went next door, let themselves into the house next door. The guys who lived next door were all fraternity brothers of mine.

They were all gone and in class. The police let themselves in because they had the search warrant. Why waste a good search warrant, I guess, huh? So they went next door, let themselves in, found a lot of dope next door. Guess who sold those people next door all the dope in the house?

We did. We sold them everything they had in the house. They went to the classroom building where my friend and my fraternity brother was in class, called him out of class, handcuffed him right there in the hallway of the classroom, and took him to jail. And when I went to see him later in the day, I went right there into Chapel Hill, right into the jail, looking right through the bars, he was on the bad side of the bars, I was on the better side of the bars, and I felt horrible.

I mean, I felt absolutely horrible. This guy had a full grant in aid scholarship called a Moorhead Scholarship to Chapel Hill. He didn't pay a cent, they even bought his books for him, he lost all of that. And he went to jail on drug charges. And you know who they really wanted? They didn't want him, they wanted me. And I felt terrible because I felt like here was a guy who took the hit that really wasn't meant for him, it was meant for me.

And I still feel horrible about that 25 years later. Every time I think of the story we've got in the Bible this morning, I think about my friend Pablo and what happened in Chapel Hill. Because we've got a story this morning about somebody taking a hit for somebody else.

And the person who should have taken the hit didn't, and the person who didn't deserve the hit took it. And that's what we've got going on right here. And so as we study the story of a fellow named Barabbas, I hope that you'll also let God impress upon you that in many respects, the same thing that Jesus Christ did for Barabbas, he's willing or has done for you and me. And let's talk about that this morning. I'm in verse 15 of chapter 27.

Let's look together. Now it was the governor's custom at the Passover feast every year to release a prisoner that would be chosen by the crowd. As best we can tell in the whole Roman Empire, this was a custom unique to Judea. And Judea was a tough place to rule. It was a tough place for the Romans to keep peace in. And so this was a concession apparently that they had come up with that every year at Passover they would release one prisoner, whichever one the crowd chose.

This was a way of kind of helping to spread a little goodwill, I guess. Now, verse 16. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner who was named Barabbas. What do we know about this guy Barabbas? Well, his name means son of the father. And we know that rabbis and famous teachers in Israel often called themselves the father of the people. Some commentators have suggested this guy may have really been the son of a very famous rabbi. We just don't know the rabbi's name.

That's possible. It's also possible this was just a street name that Barabbas used on the street. It wasn't his real name at all. Because Barabbas was not exactly what you would call, you know, your mild-mannered Clark Kent sort of guy. In fact, Luke 23 tells us that Barabbas had been thrown into prison for leading an insurrection in the city and for murder. Barabbas was a member of a fanatical underground guerrilla group that the Romans called the sicari, which means in Latin the dagger men. This was a group of guerrillas who believed that if they assassinated enough Roman officials, they could drive the Romans out of Palestine because they could just bring the Romans to the point of saying it's not worth it.

And they went around finding any Roman official that they could and assassinating them. Interestingly enough, the same strategy was used in 1946 to 1948 by the Jewish underground organization called the Haganah, eventually culminating, if you know anything about that point in history, with the blowing up of the King David Hotel there in Jerusalem, the killing of a whole bunch of high British officers. And it was at that point that the British said, forget it. This is not worth it.

We're out of here. You guys deal with your own problems. So it worked in 1946. Now, it did not work with the Roman Empire.

They were just wired a little differently. So it didn't work. But apparently Barabbas had been leading a revolt. He'd apparently killed some Romans, they had caught him, they had tried him, they had convicted him, and he was being held and was going to be executed. This is this guy. And everybody in Jerusalem knew who he was.

He was kind of like Zorro. You know what I'm saying? For these people. Okay.

Now, let's go on. Verse 17. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate said to them, which one do you want me to release to you?

Barabbas or Jesus, who's called the Messiah? For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. That is, the leaders had. And while Pilate was sitting on his judge's seat, his wife came to him with a message and said, don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I've suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

Which of the two do you want to release to you, asked the governor? Barabbas, they answered. Well, what shall I do with Jesus, who's called the Christ, Pilate asked. And they all answered, crucify him. Why, Pilate said.

What crime has he committed? But they shouted all the louder, crucify him. And when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he did the politically correct thing. He took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. And he said, I'm innocent of this man's blood.

It's your responsibility. Now, is that really true? Of course not. This is one of the most enduring little images we have of the crucifixion, which is Pilate washing his hands. Did it ever occur to you where he might have gotten that custom from? It was not a Roman custom. We don't know anything about Romans doing this. Actually, it probably came from Deuteronomy 21, where when a group of leaders in a city found a dead body close by the city, but they didn't do the murder. They didn't have any idea who did it. Deuteronomy 21 says that you come back into the city, and you ritually wash your hands, and you hold them up to God and say, God, we're innocent.

We had nothing to do with this. And that way, they would not bring guilt on their city. And it's very possible that Pilate knew about this hand-washing ritual because he was there in Israel. And he picked a ritual. He picked an image that all the Israelites would have immediately connected as a way of saying, I'm innocent.

That's probably where he got it from. Now, look at the response, verse 25. And all the people answered and said, let his blood be on us and on our children.

Listen, I'm one of those children. You understand what I'm saying to you? I mean, Solomon is not Irish. You understand what I'm saying? And I don't much appreciate being lumped in with these people back there with what's going on.

But I got lumped in whether I wanted to be lumped in or not. My people rejected their Messiah. And even though Jewish leaders since the first century have tried to convince the world that it was not the Jewish people who were responsible at all, it was the Romans, the answer is it was both. The Romans were responsible, and these Jewish people were responsible.

They were both responsible. And that's not the basis for anti-Semitism. It's been used that way in some places.

That's not how it should be used. I don't think this should be used as a basis for racial hatred and calling people Christ killers. This ought to be used as a basis of pity and compassion, friends, because the Jewish people have suffered for the last 2,000 years because of the decision they made that day.

And it hasn't been pretty. When I was in Israel for the first time in 1983, I went to Yad Vashem. It's the Holocaust Museum that's there in Jerusalem. I want to tell you, folks, when I walked into that place, I had no clue what I was in store for.

No clue. I was so shaken when I walked out the place, I couldn't go on with the day. I just said, look, I got to go back to the hotel. I mean, I can't describe in words what that did to me. It's two buildings full of images and movies and murals that trace the whole Holocaust.

It's unbelievable what's in there. And I remember walking out of the building at the end of the little self-guided deal that you do, and I remember thinking to myself, you know, this did not have to happen. This did not have to happen. And it wouldn't have happened if 2,000 years ago that crowd would have made a different decision. If 2,000 years ago they would have said, hey, crucify the rabbis if you want to, but you give us Jesus.

None of this would have happened. You say, Lon, are you suggesting that all the suffering of the Jewish people for the last 2,000 years can be directly traced back to this verse, verse 25, let his blood be on us and our children? I don't know. I'm not God.

I can't answer that question absolutely. I can just tell you my opinion, and my opinion is that the vast majority of that suffering can be traced right to this verse. Now, I don't know that the Jewish people back then had a complete understanding of what they were really saying, but God sometimes holds us accountable for what we say and do, whether we have a full understanding of what we're doing or not.

Pretty tragic. Well, let's get back to Barabbas, verse 26. Then he released Barabbas to them, but he had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified. The church father, Jerome, tells us that before the Romans were ready to crucify somebody, they flogged them. And flogging was basically whipping, but it was not with a normal whip.

It was with kind of a cat of nine tails affair where you had a handle, and you had a bunch of rawhide strips, and Jerome tells us that at the end of these rawhide strips, the Romans tied pieces of bone and pieces of metal so that when they hit you, it just ripped your skin open, and that they would beat prisoners with this who were going to be crucified to exhaust them to the point that they would die quicker on the cross. Now, the Jewish people had a limit to how many times they could flog someone. Thirty-nine was the absolute limit. And if you remember, the apostle Paul said he got thirty-nine a couple of times. But the Romans had no limit. They could beat you till you died if they wanted to. How many times did they hit Jesus?

No clue. But I'm sure it wasn't pretty what he looked like when they got finished. Now, remember, this is what Barabbas was scheduled for before Jesus took his place.

You understand what I'm saying? This is what was going to happen to Barabbas. He was headed for the cross. And so the point is that Jesus Christ took the stroke that belonged to Barabbas. That's pretty clear.

And Barabbas went free. Now, that's the end of our passage, but it leaves us with a really important question. What's our question? So what?

Right. Whenever I do a funeral, there tends to be one thing that's fairly constant, and that is that the family picks out a favorite hymn. Usually it's the favorite hymn of the person who's passed away.

And I think that's good, and that's precious. But oftentimes I've sat there as I've listened or been singing and I've thought, you know, at my funeral, what song would I like them to sing? Now, at your funeral, what song would you like them to sing? Have you ever thought about that? You should pick a couple of songs and leave them so people know what to tell them to sing when you're out of here, you know?

So what song would you pick? You say, Lon, this is sick. This is twisted. What are you talking about? Nobody wants to think about that.

Well, maybe you don't. I'm just trying to find out what one of your favorite hymns is, okay? That's all I'm trying to find out. Want to know what one of mine is? You don't want to know, all right? All right? I'm not going to tell you. So there.

No, I'll tell you, because I want to. I love the hymn by Charles Wesley, and the title of it is, if you know the, it's called, And Can It Be? Do you know that great hymn? And I love the way the chorus goes. The chorus says this, Amazing love, amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, that you would die for me? And the reason I love that hymn so much is because that hymn reminds me that I was square in the cross hairs of the judgment of God. That's what I deserved. I deserved to be there, and Jesus Christ came in and moved me over and took the bullet that was meant for me. That's why I love that song. Amazing love. And this is the confidence.

This is the hope with which I plan to go out into eternity. You say, but Lorne, what kind of hit are you talking about? I mean, what do you mean? Well, let me see. Let's go back to the beginning and see if I can explain to you exactly what we mean. In the beginning, with Adam and Eve in the garden, you say, you don't really believe that, do you?

Absolutely, I do. I believe there were two people right there. And here's what God said to them. God said, you can eat freely of any tree in the garden, Genesis chapter 2, verse 16, that you want. But when you disobey me and you eat of that tree in the middle of the garden, on that day, you shall surely die. God was very upfront with these people about what the penalty for disobedience was.

There was no secret there. And you know, in the pages of the Bible ever since, God's been just as upfront. He says in Ezekiel 18, verse 4, the soul that sins, it shall die. He says in Romans chapter 6, verse 23, you know it, the wages of sin are death. God's been very upfront about this.

Now, that's the bad news. But from the very beginning, God also started telling them about the good news. And the good news is that God would allow substitution. In his mercy, God would accept a substitute. Could shed its blood, sacrifice its life in the place of my life, take the hit that I really deserve, and God would accept this and let me go free.

That's the good news. Let me go free just like Barabbas went free. And God began to teach this great truth from the very beginning to people who had broken his law. He taught it to Adam and Eve. He taught it to Cain and Abel. He taught it to the Israelites in Egypt when they took that Passover lamb and they killed that Passover lamb and they put the blood of that lamb on the doorpost of their house. And in a sense, that lamb took the hit that otherwise would have fallen on every firstborn Israelite that night, but the lamb took the hit instead. It forms the basis of the whole sacrificial system of Israel, where a sinner would bring an innocent, blemishless animal, usually a lamb, and the lamb would be killed and the lamb's blood would be put on the altar and God would accept the death of that lamb in the place of the death of a sinner. And it was practiced at the temple in Jerusalem for 15 centuries just like that.

What was God doing? God was trying to teach his people a principle, the principle of substitution. Now the Bible was also clear that these animal sacrifices were not the final solution to this problem. For it is impossible, Hebrews 10-4 says, for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin permanently.

It's not going to work. Ultimately, there had to be, in order to have a permanent solution for the problem, there had to be a man who was willing to die as the lamb for mankind. But remember the requirement. The lamb had to be blemishless, the lamb had to be perfect, and there's not a lamb, there's not a human being who ever lived that could meet that requirement. So the only solution God had was to come and become a man himself and to live a completely sinless life himself and to offer himself as an unblemished lamb to pay for the sin of mankind to take the hit that you and I deserved himself. And that's exactly what God did in the person of Jesus Christ. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15.

Jesus Christ was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin. And John chapter 8 verse 46, he said to his enemies one day, which one of you, can any of you prove me guilty of any sin? That's a pretty incredible statement. Now I could stand up and make that statement. Which one of you could prove me guilty of any sin? And my wife would be the first one to have her hand go up. I mean, she wouldn't be looking to get me in trouble, but she knows that it's not a true statement. And she could make the same statement, and Brenda's a great gal and I love her to death, and she's a great wife, but I would have to step up and say, mm-mm-mm, no, no, no, I live with you and that's just not true. Now if you're a teenager, don't even think about making that statement.

We as parents will have that statement fixed for it ever even finishes coming out of your mouth. Give it up. But you know what's interesting, when Jesus Christ made this statement to his enemies, not just his friends, not his family, when he made it to his enemies, there wasn't one single person who could step up and call his bluff, not one.

Why not? Because Jesus Christ was not an ordinary man. He was God wrapped in human flesh and he never did sin. There's never been a person like him before and there'll never be another person like him again, but it took someone like him to satisfy the requirements of God's law as somebody who would pay for your sin and my sin. And that explains why John the Baptist pointed to him and said, behold, this is the Lamb of God who's going to take away the sin of the world. God's going to let him substitute for the sin of the world.

I love what Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer said. He wrote a hymn that said, not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain could give my guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain, but Christ the heavenly Lamb takes all our sin away, a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they. Jesus Christ's death on the cross, my friends, satisfied God's justice. There was a real human actual death paid for the sin of every one of us, but the beautiful thing about it is that you and I aren't the ones who had to pay it. The blow fell on Jesus and now we're free. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 21, God made him, Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, to become sin for us, where? On the cross. So that we, through what he did on the cross, might become righteous in the sight of God.

And this is what Easter is really all about, my dear friends, not about Easter eggs or the Easter bunny. It's really all about the fact that God loved you so much, God loved me so much that he created a permanent solution to sin. He created a way for you and me to be like Barabbas, to walk away eternally free, eternally pardoned, because somebody else, Jesus Christ, took the hit that you and I deserved. And Isaiah 53, I think, says it about as well as it can be said. If you'll turn there with me for a second, it's page 523 in our copy of the Bible. Page 523 or Isaiah 53 in your copy of the Bible, I don't think it can be said any better than this. Isaiah 53, page 523, look with me at verse 5. But he, Jesus Christ, was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought peace to us, what kind of peace?

Well, peace between us and God and the peace of God in our life. The punishment that brought peace to us was upon him. And by his wounds, we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, watch, and the Lord laid on him, Jesus Christ, the iniquity of us all. Can you say it any better than that?

Jesus took the hit for you and for me, and we walked away like Barabbas. You know, in Revelation chapter 2, it says when we get to heaven, chapter 2 verse 17, I don't know if you ever read this, it says that for every true believer in Jesus Christ, when we get to heaven, God's going to give us a new name. And it says it's a name that nobody else knows.

You say, well, Lauren, what name is that? You know, what do you think? I don't have a clue.

I don't even have a good guess. But I do have a thought. Can I suggest to you that if every one of us, when we arrived in heaven, every one of us who's trusted Jesus Christ as our personal savior, when we get there, if Jesus Christ were to come up to you and me and hang a big old sign around our neck and it just had four words on it and those four words were these, just call me Barabbas. Wouldn't that sign be appropriate?

I don't know if that's the new name we're all going to get. But hey, Barabbas would work, wouldn't it? Because Jesus took the hit for you, that's why you're in heaven and you were able to walk away free. So just call you Barabbas. My friend, if you're here this morning and you've never trusted Jesus Christ in a real and personal way and you're not absolutely sure you're going into heaven, but you want to go, let me tell you the secret. The only way anybody gets into heaven is by becoming a Barabbas. That's the only way you get in. The only way you get in is by allowing Jesus Christ to become your personal substitute. It's not theology anymore, it's personal.

By relying on the act of substitution that he did on the cross instead of any other remedy to take care of your sin in the sight of a holy God. And if you get to heaven and you arrive at the pearly gates, and I don't know that there are any, and if Peter comes and asks you, why should I let you in, and I'm not sure he will, but if that were to happen, let me tell you the answer that would work. The answer, why should you let me in, the answer is this, because I have a substitute, Jesus Christ, who on the cross took the hit that belonged to me. The pearly gates will open and they'll welcome you inside. And if you've never done that, that's how Jesus said you get into heaven.

That's why he came. And I hope this Easter season you'll think about making that personal transaction between you and God if you've never done it before. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, we thank you for loving us. We know you said that no greater love can a person have than this, that they would give up their life for the person they love. And I want to pray that you would help each one of us here understand completely that that's exactly what you did for us, that each one of us is Barabbas, and you took the hit for us on the cross. Father, those of us who know you, help us rejoice in being Barabbas. And may it enrich our Easter season to focus a little bit on what that means, that we walked away free even though we deserved the stroke that you took. And for those who may be here that have never made that kind of personal transaction to allow you to be their personal substitute, I pray that you take what we shared this morning and you would really cause them to think seriously about their need to do that. Thank you that you took the hit that belonged to us. Help us love you for doing that, Lord. We pray in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-15 08:48:08 / 2024-01-15 08:59:56 / 12

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