Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Passover

Barabbas Instead of Jesus

I can’t get away from the account in the Gospels about Barabbas.  This story intrigues me because I see in it the beauty of the substitutionary atonement that Jesus provides for our salvation.   This is a pivotal point of Christianity that runs across the board.  Christians have always held that Jesus died for us, that He died for our sins.  Paul the Apostle states it clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that Christ died for our sins.  He repeats this in Galatians 1:4.  Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:24 that Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree.

The Lord Jesus died for our sins.  We can debate the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and His obedience to the Father but we cannot debate that Christ shed His blood for our forgiveness and that He died in our place.  He was condemned so that we might be saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-9).  Paul states that we redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7).  Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness.  Our salvation is based on the Lord Jesus and what He did on the cross by dying for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

In Matthew 27 we see a  beautiful picture of this substitutionary work of Christ.  Here we find Pilate asking the Jews which they want him to release to them: Barabbas (an insurrectionists and murderer) or Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 27:17).  The crowd cries for Barabbas (Matthew 27:20).  Pilate asks them again and they again want Barabbas (Matthew 27:21) to which the crowd asks for Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:22-23).  Pilate washes his hands of this murder of Jesus (Matthew 27:24) and the people cry that they want His blood to be upon them (Matthew 27:25) to which Pilate releases Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:26).

What I find amazing about this account is that the crowd asks for Barabbas instead of Jesus.  They even want His blood to be upon them and their children.  They were speaking prophetically.  They were simply asking for what the Jews had asked for when they offered up the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21-27).  Paul the Apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Christ is our Passover Lamb.  Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who is without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:19).  Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins because He was perfect and He died in our place, condemned for our sins but bore our sins on the cross.  The guilty sinner (Romans 3:23) can now look to the Lamb of God to be saved (Isaiah 45:22).

This salvation is based not on our works but upon the work of Christ alone (Titus 3:5-7).  What could be do to appease the wrath of God?  What works could be possibly do to merit eternal life?  Can we keep the law of God perfectly?  Can we live our entire lives free from sin, completely obedient to the will of a holy and perfect God?  If someone says they can they are lying.  None can (Proverbs 20:9).

I have met people before who claim to never sin.  They will even tell me the date the last time they sinned and claim that they have not sinned since in word, thought, or deed.  I find that alarming.  I confess my weaknesses.  I am not perfect by far.  Ask my wife and she could name hundreds of my sins.  No I don’t wake up going out looking to sin or looking to disobey the Lord but I confess that I have not walked perfectly with the Lord.  I have fallen short many times.  I have not loved God perfectly nor have I obeyed Him perfectly.

This makes me so thankful for the crowd asking for Barabbas instead of Jesus.  I am Barabbas.  My heart has been wicked before God.  I have not been perfect as He requires (Matthew 5:48).  I have sinned (Romans 3:10-18).  But thanks be to God for the gift of His Son (John 3:16).  Jesus died for my sins.  Barabbas could not save for he was guilty of great sins.  Yet the Lord in His sovereignty allowed the hardened Jews to choose Barabbas (who is me) instead of Christ.  Jesus thus died in my place and in the place of Barabbas.  Jesus bore the sins of Barabbas as well as the sins of sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2).

My heart now longs to please God.  Not out of legalism.  Not out of bondage.  But my heart longs now to worship and please the Lord because of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of what Jesus did for me by dying in my place and taking my condemnation, I now rejoice in this great salvation, this great grace!  I pray because I am so thankful for what Jesus has done.  I long to see others saved because of what Jesus has done.  I long to praise my God because of what Jesus has done.  This salvation is all of Jesus and my boasting is only in the Lord Jesus who died for my sins (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

I often have read the story of Barabbas and wonder what happened to him.  Church tradition is that Barabbas did get saved and became a great preacher of the gospel.  How could he not?  He watched with his own eyes as the people chose him (and he knew he was guilty) for the Lord Jesus who had never sinned.  I am sure Barabbas had heard of Jesus maybe even heard Him preach.  I tend to believe tradition at this point and believe that Barabbas became a great preacher of the gospel.  His testimony would have been powerful as he told how Jesus took His place and was crucified on the cross where he should have died.

The story use to make me weep at the crowds choosing Barabbas.  I would talk to my Bible and say, “No, let Jesus go free.”  Yet I know that without the cross, I have no salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The gospel rises and falls on Jesus taking our place.  Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 53 and He suffered in our place.

Thanks be to God!

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Jesus Died

Charles Dickens opens A Christmas Carol by stating that old Marley was dead and this fact, writes Dickens, must be understood lest anything wonderful is to come of this story.  Dickens goes on to say that Marley was as “dead as a doornail.”  In other words, Marley was truly dead.  The rest of the story would be nothing without this fact.

The same is true of the resurrection of Jesus.  Before the empty tomb, there is a cross.  Jesus had to die.  He had to be truly dead.  If Jesus is not dead, the resurrection is not true.  The story of the resurrection is only wonderful if Jesus is truly dead.

The Gospel writers go to great lengths to prove that Jesus is dead.  Let us just quickly go through how the Gospel writers present the death of Jesus.

  1.  Matthew – Matthew presents Jesus first being scourged by the Romans (Matthew 27:26) which was a violet process of whipping with a whip with bones on the end.  Many died at this point as their skin was ripped of their backs and their inner organs were often exposed.  Jesus is next taken to the governor’s headquarters were He is mocked and beaten by the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31).  Finally Jesus is led away to be crucified (Matthew 27:32-44) and He finally dies after hanging on the cross for several intense hours (Matthew 27:50).  Pilate orders the body of Jesus to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who places Him in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).
  2. Mark – After Jesus’ arrest, He is led before the Jewish council where they mock Him and beat Him (Mark 14:53-65).  Mark records that the Jews hand Jesus over to Pilate so that He might be killed.  Pilate releases Barabbas instead of Christ and has Jesus scourged before His crucifixion (Mark 15:1-15).  The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mark 15:16-20) before taking Him to crucify Him (Mark 15:21-32).  Jesus hangs on the cross for several hours before dying (Mark 15:33-39).  Pilate, who is surprised to hear that Jesus is dead already, orders His body to be given to Joseph who buries Him (Mark 15:42-47).
  3. Luke – Like Mark, Luke records that the Jews mock and beat Jesus (Luke 22:63-65).  The Jews condemn Jesus to death (Luke 22:66-71) and bring Him before Pilate (as Jews could not put anyone to death because of the Romans).  Pilate sends Jesus before Herod since that is his jurisdiction but Herod mocks Jesus as well (Luke 23:6-12).  Pilate releases Barabbas (an insurrectionist and murderer) instead of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25).  Jesus is led away to be crucified (Luke 23:26-38).  Darkness falls over the land for three hours while Jesus hangs on the cross (Luke 23:44-45).  Jesus dies (Luke 23:46).  Pilate releases the body of Jesus to Joseph who buries Him (Luke 23:50-56).
  4. John – After His arrest, Jesus is led before the Jewish rulers who question Him (John 18:12-14).  The Jews condemn Jesus and send Him before Pilate (John 18:28-32).  Pilate questions Jesus and releases Barabbas instead of Jesus (John 18:33-40).  Pilate has Jesus flogged (John 19:1) and the Romans mock Him (John 19:2-5) and the Jews join in with this mockery (John 19:6-16).  Jesus is taken and crucified (John 19:17-27).  Jesus finally dies after hanging on the cross for several hours (John 19:28-30).  Pilate orders the legs to be broken of those on the cross which would ensure their death by suffocation (John 19:31-33).  A soldier sees Jesus is dead and to make sure he pierces Jesus’ side (John 19:34).  This likely pierced the sack around Jesus’ heart and revealed that He was dead.  Jesus is buried by Joseph in his own tomb (John 19:38-42).

All four Gospels reveal that Jesus is dead.  People have often come up with various theories about the death of Jesus and most are still with us this day.  For example, many Muslims believe the Gnostic theory that Jesus did not die on the cross but it was made to seem that way and many Muslims believe that Judas and not Jesus died on the cross but God made Judas to appear to look like Jesus.  This theory is simply false without any historical basis.  All four Gospels record that it was Jesus who died on the cross.  Even unbelieving historians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross.  It is the resurrection they doubt.

Others teach the “swoon theory” in which Jesus merely passes out.  I like the reply J. Vernon McGee gave to a woman about the swoon theory:

A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee, “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?”

McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”

To be fair.  Jesus was not embalmed.  Instead, probably about 75 pounds of spices were wrapped with His body to prevent smelling during the decay process (John 19:39-40).  Yet still Jesus suffered much and for Him to rise up, take off the 75 pounds, roll away the stone, fight off the Roman guards placed there by Pilate himself, and be clean and in good health when He appears to the women on Sunday morning is a feat unto itself.

The truth is that the Gospels record the death of Jesus.  Some suppose He remains dead.  I believe with all that is in me that Jesus rose from the dead and He now sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I believe that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:28).  I believe that Jesus has conquered death by His resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  I believe that Jesus arose bodily from the dead and He is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:17-18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2016 at 12:13 PM

On Easter and Passover

I have always referred to this season that we celebrate the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and then His resurrection from the dead as Passover.  I have always struggled with the term “Easter” as it just simply wasn’t in the New Testament and somewhere along the way, the beauty (and tragedy) of Exodus 12 seems lost to the modern Church because we have replaced it with Easter.  I understand that the Church still celebrates the sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection from the dead but it seems much is missing.

Next year I intend to have a Passover meal at our home.  I want my children and my friends to see the beauty of the Lamb of God (John 1:29) in the Passover meal (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The early disciples no doubt kept the biblical feasts with an eye on Jesus Christ as Lord and understood that they pointed to the reality of Christ Himself (Hebrews 10:1-4).  At some point in Church History, the Church begin to celebrate Easter and the glorious resurrection of Christ but stopped celebrating Passover altogether.

My hope is that I can show people the glory of Christ in the Passover meal.  One cannot read the Passover account in Exodus 12 and not see the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God who was slain for us.  Christ was sacrificed on the cross at Passover and His death pointed back to the book of Exodus.

My hope also is to show that the biblical feasts point to the Lord Jesus (Leviticus 23).  They reveal Him in ways that we Gentiles often miss and I am guilty of that.  While only Christ saves us by His grace and not works of the law (Galatians 2:15-16), the Old Testament is a wonderful portrait of Jesus that we can miss if we fail to study it.  Paul the Apostle stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Old Testament was an example for us.  We can learn from the examples seen in the Old Covenant while praising God that we are saved under the New Covenant that Jesus brought to us by His own blood (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:8-13).

In all this, my heart is not to return to Judaism but to worship the Lord Jesus and exalt Him for all that He has done in saving me from the wrath of God (Romans 5:1-11).  I want to see Him and know Him more and if this can happen by seeing Him in the Passover, I want to celebrate it with all my heart.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/21/2014 at 8:03 PM

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