What They Asked For

Easter: a time when Christians everywhere remember, and celebrate, their Savior being raised from the dead. It is through His death, burial, and resurrection, that all our beliefs are based. So appropriately, I want to share with you from Matthew 27:15-26 about the events leading up to Easter and how they impact us.

At that time, it was custom for the governor to release a prisoner to the multitude at the Feast of the Passover. Therefore, Pilate gave the people a choice: Barabbas, who was a “notorious prisoner” (meaning he was a repeat offender) or Jesus, who was called Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Pilate was aware the Pharisees were envious of Jesus, but not only did the people cry out for Jesus to be crucified instead of Barabbas, they also said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25).

And God gave them what they asked for: Blood and a Substitute.

Blood was always used as a sin offering. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” And according to Hebrews 9:7-26, the priestly offering of blood foreshadowed what was to come and provided them access to God. In fact, the high priest never entered the holy of holies without blood (even the first covenant was dedicated with blood).

The people cried out for the blood of Jesus, which He was prepared to give. He knew it would accomplish the Father’s desire to save mankind, and fulfill all prophecy. Hebrews 9:26 says, “but now… [Jesus] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  Yes, with His own blood, Jesus obtained eternal redemption.

But that’s not all… The people cried out for a substitute. They were willing to let someone else die for Barabbas’ sin. I’m still amazed when I think about it. The crowd rushed the courtyard screaming to Pilate, “Let His blood be on us and our children!” They wanted justice.

And they got it.

It’s crazy to think they were arrogant, deceived, and in spiritual bondage, and yet they called out for the very thing God had purposed to do all along.

They wanted Pilate to release Barabbas, who was a known criminal and murderer. In fact, the Bible calls him a “notorious prisoner” meaning he was a repeat offender. Barabbas was the guy who was always in trouble and in jail (again) for bad behavior.

Picture this for a moment: Barabbas was in his cell when Pilate began addressing the people. He could hear the buzz of the crowd outside. He can’t make out everything Pilate is saying — all he hears is: “Crucify Him!”

This is the day. Barabbas realizes his sins have finally gotten the best of him and his punishment is sure. Then a guard opens the prison door and says, “Pilate wants to see you.” I’m sure it was a long walk to face Pilate… a thousand guilty thoughts running through his head with each step to face his sentencing.

But to Barabbas’ surprise, another man is standing next to Pilate… a substitute.

The ironic thing is that Barabbas represents you and me. In fact, I could easily say, “I was Barabbas because I was a repeat offender and a captive held in bondage to sin. And although I hated myself for it, I never imagined being free.

Like Barabbas, we were all guilty because we were notorious offenders, but we were like Barabbas in other ways too: He was forgiven, accepted, and set free by a substitute.

Jesus was forsaken, condemned, and crucified. JESUS became Barabbas’ substitution… and ours. According to Isaiah 53:5, He was wounded for OUR transgressions (not His).

Jesus didn’t shed his blood or become a sacrifice to pay for His own sins. No, He willingly did it to free those who never thought they could be.

No wonder millions love and worship Him.

And this is WHY we celebrate Easter.