I am that man

by Herald of Truth

I am that man.

It should have been quick and easy. In honor of the Jewish feast day, the Roman governor was going to release a prisoner. There were really only two possibilities. One of them was a terrorist, accused of murder. Guilty as sin.

The other prisoner shouldn’t have been there. His arrest was a fraud. The only charges against him had to do with the religion of the local people. What was a case like that doing in a Roman court? The governor planned to release this man, making the people happy and keeping him from having to try such a silly case.

He stepped outside to face the crowd that had gathered. As one, they began to chant, “Release Barabbas!”

Barabbas? That was the terrorist. That didn’t make any sense. A man like that had no business going free. Surely they wanted the one who had been jailed unjustly.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Governor Pilate asked the crowd.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

Not being willing to go against the people, Pilate released Barabbas and condemned Jesus to die on a cross.

Death on a cross was a terrible death. It was designed to be a public torture, a slow, painful, humiliating death. Crucifixion was the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

On that fateful day, the guilty man went free, while the innocent man went to a horrible death.

Barabbas, the criminal who was pardoned, is an interesting man. His name is made up of two words: “bar” and “abbas.” “Bar” means “son of,” “abbas” means “father.” The name Barabbas means Son of his Father. For all practical purposes, his name could be Everyman.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free. Murderer. Terrorist. A threat to society.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free. The guilty man received a pardon. The innocent man was condemned to death.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free. Deserving death, he received life. Deserving punishment, he received freedom. Deserving justice, he received mercy.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free.

I am that man.

You see, Jesus died to pay for sins that I committed. I deserved death. I deserved punishment. But what I got was forgiveness and freedom.

Centuries before Jesus was born, a prophet named Isaiah wrote about Jesus’ death. Look at what he had to say:

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Look at how many times Isaiah talks about you and me. Look at how many times he uses words like “us,” “our,” and “we.”

Our infirmities. Our sorrows. Our transgressions. Our iniquities. Punishment that brought us peace. We are healed. We… have gone astray. Each of us turned… The iniquity of us all.

Jesus’ death wasn’t an accident. Nor did he “get what was coming to him.” Jesus died for us. For you. For me.

We’ve all done things that we knew were wrong. Big things, little things, many mistakes over time. These things are what the Bible calls sin. Isaiah uses other terms like transgressions, iniquities. This sin creates a barrier between us and God.

God is good, all the way through. Bad things can’t be in his presence any more than darkness can exist where a bright light is shining. As long as we are stained with sin, we can’t be with God. We can’t receive the gift of living with him forever.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, he told them:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23-24)

We’ve sinned and aren’t eligible to be with God. However, Jesus redeemed us, that is, he paid the price for our freedom. That price was his own death. That’s what Isaiah meant when he wrote “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” Jesus’ death brought us peace.

The stains that sin leaves last a lifetime… and beyond. Only someone who has never sinned can possibly take them away. That’s why God sent his son Jesus.

Jesus came to earth and lived a life without sin, a holy life. His unjust death opened the way for us to receive forgiveness. His innocent blood is able to wash away the stains of sin, allowing us to be holy like God, allowing us to be adopted into God’s family.

The apostle Paul wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26–27) By symbolically participating in Christ’s death, we begin a new life as children of God.

This is the good news that God has for all of us: through Jesus Christ and his death, God has provided the way in which people everywhere can have a complete relationship with him. He has made the gift of unending life available to us all.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free. Deserving death, he received life. Deserving punishment, he received freedom. Deserving justice, he received mercy.

The day that Jesus died, a man went free.

I am that man.

And so are you.

-Tim Archer

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