Day 44 of 46 c Lenten Season 2010
Passion Week - Maundy Thursday
I have a question. Can one have a guest entry on one's blog?
This being Maundy Thursday, I had been gearing up for something theologically profound, but then I was provided the perfect content last night on a silver platter.
Colin Howland serves as an organist and the director of the music and worship ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where I've attended for the past ten years.
For our chancel choir's Wednesday update bulletin, Colin has been writing a short devotional of sorts, and last night's article struck such a chord that I wanted to share it with you.
So with his permission but without further ado, please take for your Maundy Thursday consideration Colin's insight on Matthew 27:26 and the contrasts between Barabbas and Christ.
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified.
The theme of substitution runs throughout scripture. God had mercy on Adam and Eve by sparing their lives, yet slaying animals to supply skins to cover their nakedness. A ram was provided in place of Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. Lambs were slaughtered and their blood painted on the doorposts the eve before the Passover, protecting each household from the plague of the firstborn. Then there are all the sacrifices for sin provided in the Law.
In every case, there is an animal substituted for a person, until Barabbas and Jesus. The problem with substituting an animal for a person is obvious; an animal is not equal to a person. No one would trade their daughter for a sheep, or their son for a bullock. Even the thought of this is scandalous. What is true of us in this case is also true of God. The author of Hebrews sums up the essence of the matter; “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).” That the Redeemer of humanity must be human is all too obvious.
But the contrast between Barabbas and Christ should cut us to the quick. We are looking at a thief, a murderer, a political activist, what some in his day may have considered a “terrorist.” How do we compare such a one to Christ? Pilate’s verdict does not do Jesus justice, “I find no guilt in Him (John 18:38).” Pilate failed to see who Jesus really was; he did not see His perfection, did not know His divinity, and did not realize His essential power and glory.
If we fail to see Jesus this way we miss the stark contrast between the two. But we miss the power of the gospel just as much if we do not recognize what would have been obvious to the first readers of the gospels: the true identity of Barabbas. It comes simply from the meaning of his name, which is made up of two simple words, “bar” and “abba,” translated “son of a father.”
“Now,” you say, “that could be anyone,” and you are quite right! Paul sums it up this way in the letter to the Romans, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
- Colin Howland; Park Cities Presbyterian Church, March 31, 2010