“You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) (Luke 23:14–19 NIV)
Like Barabbas, we sit on the floor of the dusty cell, awaiting the final moment. Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls. Head between knees, we don’t look up as he opens the door; we don’t lift our eyes as he begins to speak. We know what he is going to say. “Time to pay for your sins.” But we hear something else.
“You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.”
The door swings open, the guard barks, “Get out,” and we find ourselves in the light of the morning sun, shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering, What just happened?
Christ took away your sins. Where did he take them? To the top of a hill called Calvary, where he endured not just the nails of the Romans, the mockery of the crowd, and the spear of the soldier but the anger of God.
Saturate your heart in this, the finest summary of God’s greatest accomplishment: “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us” (Rom. 3:24–25 NLT, emphasis mine).
God didn’t overlook your sins, lest he endorse them. He didn’t punish you, lest he destroy you. He instead found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner. Jesus took your punishment, and God gave you credit for Jesus’ perfection.
Today’s devotional is drawn from Max Lucado’s Second Chances.