But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them Mark 15:11
Mark 15:6-15 portrays a scenario which I believe it’s very profound to the work of redemption. The Chief Priests with the religious leaders and scholars arranged a congress with the entire Jewish Council where Jesus was tried and was later presented to Pilate. It was a custom at the feast of Passover to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for.
There was one prisoner called Barabbas. He and some others had been arrested for murder during a riot. As a usual custom, Pilate asked the people who they wanted to be freed. Pilate expected them to support the releasing of Jesus because he didn’t find any fault in him but he was appalled when the crowd gave their unflinching support for Barabbas to be released. And Pilate desiring to do what was pleasing to the people let Barabbas go free and gave up Jesus to be crucified according to their wish.
Barabbas had committed insurrection against the government and a murderer too. Barabbas was a threat to national peace and security. The presence of Barabbas alone is a threat to the security of lives and property. Barabbas had masterminded a lot of terrorism attacks with series of bomb blasts that claimed thousands of innocent souls and massive destruction of properties and amenities. Barabbas is a number one public enemy. Any Government would give half of its annual budget to anyone with useful information on how to arrest Barabbas. Now that the Roman Government had arrested the public enemy that troubled the peace of Rome, as a result of envy the Chief priest incited the mob to release the most-wanted person in Rome.
Jesus, on the other hand had been giving life everywhere he went. He was setting the captives free, healing the broken hearted, proclaiming liberty to them that are in bondage, healing all forms of sicknesses and diseases, raising the dead, giving recovery of sight to them that are blind. He was giving a higher and better life to the people than they ever dreamed of…preaching the good news. Jesus wasn’t a threat to the security of lives and property; rather he went about giving life and undoing all the works of the enemy.
Barabbas was released and set free but Jesus was crucified. The innocent went in guilty and was crucified. The guilty one became innocent because the innocent one became guilty. The one who deserved nothing was crucified and the one that deserved every judgement and punishment could go free because of what Jesus did. Barabbas was given a clean slate. He was granted Presidential pardon as though he had never done any wrong all because the sinless man became guilty. It was a beautiful exchange. The guilty became righteous because the innocent one was crucified and punished for the crime he didn’t commit.
Every Barabbas should go free because Jesus went to the cross. Jesus took our punishment and God gave us credit for Jesus’ perfection. The reason we can’t be punished was because someone innocent went in and received the punishment on our behalf. The Incarnation of Deity and humanity in the babe of Bethlehem solved the problem and agony of mankind. We became justified simply because of Jesus’ perfect substitutionary sacrifice on the cross. We became “JUST-IF-WE’D-NEVER-SINNED”.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ took our place and fro every sin you and I have committed and will ever commit, He bore it at the tree and He was punished so that we will not be punished. He was condemned. He took our place, so that we might take his place – a position of power, dominion and authority. He became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He became our curse that we might be blessed. He cried, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” so that our cry might be, “My Father, My Father! Why have you so loved me this much?”
If the greatest need of humanity was food, God would have sent an Agriculturist with vast experience and skills in Commercial farming. If our greatest need was information, God would have sent an educationist. If the greatest need of mankind were to be condemnation and criticism, I guess the Devil was already doing a good job with that so God wouldn’t have intervened. Our greatest need is not technology, if it had been, God would have sent a Scientist with so much technological innovations. If the greatest need of mankind was pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. The greatest need of mankind was redemption and forgiveness of sins, so God sent a Saviour.
The gospel is the good news about Christ. The centrality of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power of God at work saving everyone who believes. The good news is about the beautiful exchange, the sinless man punished that the guilty one might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful exchange!
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2Cor.5:19
God has given us the ministry of reconciliation and has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation – bringing others back to him. The ministry of reconciliation is simply proclaiming that the sin problem has been settled in the body of Christ because God is not putting their sins into their account as Christ paid it all. The enmity between man and God has been abolished. Man has been redeemed and freely forgiven.
We’ve been given the responsibility of bringing the world back to him. It is not the era of a sinner in the hand of an angry God; it’s the dawn of a sinner in the hands of a loving God. God wants us to shout it at the top of the mountains and hills that every Barabbas should go free because Jesus went to the cross. The message of reconciliation is telling every Barabbas that there is no more enmity between him and God. The message is proclaiming to every Barabbas of the better and abundant life that is in Christ Jesus. It’s no longer the ministry of condemnation; it’s the ministry of reconciliation.
It would interest you to know that Jesus didn’t die with a pointing finger. He died with his arms wide open and it was deliberate. His loving arms are ever wide open to receive every Barabbas. There’s a home in Jesus. God gave Jesus up to rescue every Barabbas. Every Barabbas needs to hear about the love of the Father. It will never be about our love for him, but His love for us (1 John 4:10). That’s our message!
The cross was heavy, the blood was real, and the price was extravagant. It would have bankrupted you or me, so He paid it for us – Max Lucado
Monthly Archives: July 2014
But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them Mark 15:11
The day GOD gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to GOD, with all Israel listening: “Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.” (Josh.10:12 MSG)
Joshua, Moses’ Personal Assistant and successor who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land was someone who dared to ask big. When Joshua was caught in the thick of the battle with his enemies and the sun was about to set, he cried out and ask for something that has never been done before and that looked seemingly impossible. Joshua asked God for more daylight because the sun was about to set and the momentum of the battle was to their advantage. Joshua wanted both the sun and the moon to stand still. Joshua seemingly wanted an abrupt halt in the Solar System so that there won’t be movement of both the sun and the moon.
Joshua asked a request that was audacious. Science has it that the earth rotates around the sun, and not the sun around the earth. So technically, when Joshua called for the sun and moon to stand still, God made the earth stand still instead. Joshua’s request is scientifically and logically inaccurate, but nevertheless God honoured Joshua’s faith.
I thought God would have corrected Joshua and written him a note on the principle of operation of the solar system explaining how it is built and functions. I was thinking God would have written Joshua a piece, saying;
Dear Joshua! I salute your doggedness and resilience and it’s worthy of commendation. I must also commend your leadership skills and abilities in leading my people but one thing is not right. The request you made is impossible as you want to alter my creation. The Solar System is built to function by the earth moving around the sun and not the other way round. Your request has been declined as it is illogical and out of this world. Feel free to contact me if there is anything else I can do to help you. Have a great day Joshua!
It gives me great encouragement to know that God honours our faith and hope in him. It is worthy of note that Joshua’s faith said ‘Yes’ and God couldn’t say ‘No’ to his request. Even though in the natural realm, it was impossible for what Joshua said to come to pass, Joshua believed God anyway. Joshua had not seen or read about anyone that altered the mode of operation of the Solar System but He believed in his heart and spoke what he wanted. He wasn’t trying or attempting to see if the sun and moon would stand still. He spoke the word in faith and received his request. Faith moves God. Faith moves mountains.
And since we have the SAME SPIRIT OF FAITH, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”* WE ALSO BELIEVE AND THEREFORE SPEAK, (2Cor.4:13 NKJV)
ACCESS#1 (We Believe)
Faith has to be in two places – in your heart (believe) and in your mouth (speak). The spirit of faith has an attitude and an action. Believing is the attitude and speaking is the action. The first and the most fundamental truth about the spirit of faith is that it believes. It believes the word of God whether natural circumstances agree with it or not.
Find out from the Scriptures what you are trusting God for and what God has said about it and receive the word as the truth. Then keep putting the word in your heart day after day and night after night until faith rises up within you. You already have faith within because your being born again was by faith and God had given to every man the measure of faith. You may not be acting on it. You may not be speaking it. But it’s in there and the more you hear the word of God and act on it, the more it will grow and develop.
ACCESS#2 (Therefore We Speak)
The reason majority of believers appear weak is because they have never dared to make a confession of what they believe. Your mountain needs to hear your voice and it will obey you. The first part of you that faith moves is your mouth. Any faith that can’t move your mouth can never move a mountain. The word of God you believe must be spoken through you. God’s word in your mouth is just as powerful as God’s word in his mouth. God is holding you responsible to frame your world with his word. Confession is a spiritual law that few people recognize. Nothing will establish you and build your faith as quickly as confession.
The spirit of faith stands in the midst of the most impossible circumstances and believes God anyway, and then it begins to speak. The spirit of faith causes you to shout while the walls are still standing. The spirit of faith causes you to speak to the mountains despite its magnanimity. The spirit of faith speaks life to dead situations. The spirit of faith speaks God’s word. When headache attacks, faith doesn’t say, “This headache is killing me” Faith says, “I’m healed by the stripes of Jesus. He took my sicknesses and infirmities away so I don’t bear them anymore”
There is nothing like believing God quietly. You can’t believe God and not speak. Faith has a voice. If you are not speaking yet, it means you don’t believe it yet. Kenneth Hagin of blessed memory said, “If your faith isn’t talking, it isn’t working. Faith always has a voice”.
ACCESS#3 (My Reality…My Mountain or God’s Word)
Jesus said for you to speak to the mountain, not deny its existence. Faith is not denial of situations and circumstances; it is elevating the unseen over the seen. The truth of God’s word is our reality. The facts you have are not superior to the truth of God’s word. Of course, I agree that our challenges are real but according to God’s word, they are temporal. The spirit of faith calls the things which are seen as temporal (2Cor.4:18). The seen are subject to change, the unseen is eternal and the ‘change agent’ is God’s word.
Faith for the impossible is changing natural circumstances by calling those things that are not as though they were. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (father of many nations) when he was still a childless old man with dead sperm cells married to a barren old woman that has passed menopause. But it is God who quickens the dead, and calls those things that be not as though they are (Rom.4:17).
In Genesis 1, we see God creating by speaking his word. Over and Over again, it says, God said…God saw…and it was good. That’s how we operate too because we have the same spirit of faith. We say God’s word…we see the result…and it is good.
We have to be consistent with our confessions of faith. Not just once or twice but speaking the word of faith consistently. Your confession must be in line with God’s word not according to your circumstances. Your confessions should stem out of the truth of God’s word in your heart and not out of prevailing situations and circumstances.
Faith for the impossible doesn’t consider the natural impossibilities of the situation. It does not focus on our own limitations because within our reach are unlimited possibilities with God. Live life fully assured and confident. Don’t live life with fear of the unknown, rather live life by faith in the unseen.
Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. HE ALWAYS KEEPS HIS WORD. Heb.10:23MSG
So DON’T LOSE YOUR CONFIDENCE. It will bring you a great reward. (Heb.10:35 GW)
Don’t lose confidence in God’s faithfulness and ability because He always keeps his word.
Sometime later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2Ch.20:1 (MSG)
The blood-thirsty and marauding armies of Moab, Ammon together with the Meunites joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah. King Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report and called for a state of emergency and gathered all of Judah to seek help from the Lord. All the men of Judah, with their wives and their kids, stood before the house of the Lord with gloomy faces, waiting anxiously to hear from their King. They were quite aware of the fact that they can never match the fire power of these three great nations. Their enemies outnumbered them many times over and they stand to lose everything they have. Most of the women cried uncontrollably, fearing for the lives of their husbands in the ensuing battle. The ladies wallowed in deep groaning, being tormented by the fact that they might end up as sex slaves in the hands of the captors. The young men were heaving a deep sigh and the fear of becoming bond servants all the days of their lives crushed their spirits. The children in their midst were wailing, seeing the fear in the faces of their parents and relatives left them downcast and dumbfounded. In the midst of all the aching groans and wordless sighs, everybody just waited with uncharacteristic quietness for King Jehoshaphat to speak.
Have you ever been in a situation like this, where your circumstances seem to be completely hopeless? Where challenges come at you from all sides and you are enveloped in trials of all sorts. Where you are so much under pressure to act but still overwhelmed by the challenges surrounding. Where it looks like you are too young for the kind of challenges you are facing.
This is exactly what happened to the small tribe of Judah when they were besieged on all fronts by three powerful marauding armies forcefully advancing towards them. They knew that their enemies outnumbered them many times over and were hell bent on annihilating them, it was a forlorn and hopeless situation, and it looked like they were bound for a tragic end. The circumstances looked like the end has come for the tribe of Judah and nothing will ever be heard of that tribe again.
There may be seasons in our lives where it seems like our challenges are coming at us in quick successions from all directions and we are completely overwhelmed by the different stages at which they surface. Perhaps the hassles caused by unemployment led to cracks in your relationship as well as the development of a mental oppression. Maybe you even have a demanding job which has been causing some hitches in your home and in a bid to salvage your home and family; you are also at the end of losing a high-paying job coupled with the development of a medical condition as a result of the stress. Perhaps you are very close to being on probation in school, coupled with problems at home and also kissed by the strain of financial challenge. Under the accumulated weight of all of these coming at you, you feel your world is spinning out of control. And if the story of your circumstances can be made into a movie, the title will be ‘Things are falling apart’. Day by Day, your circumstances appear to be progressively worse despite your efforts in trying to hold everything together. It appears as if life is hitting hard with some heavy blow and knock-out punches.
In such times of despair, what do you do? At such desperate times, when you honestly don’t know the next step to take.
And Jehoshaphat FEARED, and set himself to SEEK THE LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 2Ch.20:3 (KJV)
Something very profound happened when Jehoshaphat received the intelligence report that a huge force is on its way to fight him. He feared. King Jehoshaphat’s first reaction was fear. This tells us a lot about his personality. He was a regular guy with blood and water running through his veins. He was not a valiant warrior king whose dexterity at fighting wars is second to none. He was just like us. When he received the bad report that three blood-thirsty nations were teaming us against him, he did what you and I would have done – he panicked!
I want to draw your attention to the fact that even in his fears he sought the Lord. Troubled times are not the times you should run away from God or get bitter, angry, frustrated or waiver in your faith. Challenging times are opportunities to prove that the word works. Even in your fears, don’t take away your gaze from Jesus, and bask in his love because His perfect love casts out all fear.
Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said: “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. POWER AND MIGHT ARE IN YOUR HAND, AND NO ONE CAN WITHSTAND YOU. (2Ch.20:5-6)
Instead of telling God about his fears, King Jehoshaphat was telling his fears about God. Instead of relaying his fears to the Lord and lamenting about how their enemies outnumbered them, Jehoshaphat centered his prayer and petitions on how big and powerful his God is. He proclaimed that no one is able to withstand the Lord not even the forces of Moab, Ammon and the Meunites put together. In hopeless situation, Jehoshaphat hoped in the Lord.
You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; JUST STAND FIRM, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch GOD’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow–GOD is with you.” 2Ch.20:17 (MSG)
The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do is to stand firm – stand your ground. Standing firm does not connote inactivity or doing nothing. It is a position of hope anchored on Jesus and a confident expectation that everything is turning around for good. It is a position of unwavering faith declaring boldly that, ‘Faithful is He that has promised, faithful is He who will also do it.’ It is a position where you are established in the faithfulness and ability of God. When the armies of Pharaoh were chasing the Israelites, Moses simply declared to the terrified Israelites, “”Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch GOD do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again. (Exo.14:13 MSG)”
When you are caught in a seemingly hopeless situation, learn to position yourself – stand firm and see the saving power of Jesus at work on your behalf. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And as you center yourself, your thoughts, your beliefs and your hopes on him; He will lead you concerning what to do, just as He led Jehoshaphat to a triumphant victory over his enemies.
No one can withstand our God…not even your medical report, financial strain, family issues, insecurity, fears etc. God, who rebuked the wind and turned a raging storm to a great calm. God, who raised the dead and conquered the grave. God, who made the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear. God, who turned bland water into the finest wine. God, who suspended the heavens above the earth without concrete pillars. God, who multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a population of 5000. God, who rained manna from heaven and brought forth water out of dry rock. God, who helped Judah to overcome her enemies without even lifting a finger in the battle. God, who helped the Israelites bring down the walls of Jericho without bulldozers and caterpillars. God, who led His people in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Nothing can withstand our God.
There will be challenges, troubles, trials and issues to deal with in this world. But you can rest in Jesus, be encouraged in Him, continue to hope in Him, and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He will see you through your adversities. He always leads us in triumph. With Him, it is always a perpetual victory parade. He has already overcome the world! On your part, determine to be of good cheer, rejoice in the Lord always and keep having a confident expectation of good.
Greater years are still ahead!