by Andrew Hillard
Pilate’s judgment of Jesus was truer than he even knew. “Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him” (Luke 23:15). It was true in Pilate’s jurisdiction, but it was also true before the judgment seat of God. The wages of sin is death, but Jesus never sinned. Not once. Nothing deserving death has been done by him. Barabbas, on the other hand, was a murderer, someone about whom it would have been more accurate to say, “Nothing deserving death has not been done by him.” He’d taken the life of one of God’s image bearers, and the wages of sin is death. It’s clear what justice demands. The innocent Jesus must go free, and the murderer Barabbas must be punished. Pilate sees the situation clearly. He knows what is right, but in the face of the crowd’s persistent cries, he backs down. Barabbas goes free. Jesus is handed over to be crucified.
It just isn’t fair! Can you even imagine—an innocent man sentenced to die, while the guilty go free? The good news for us is we don’t have to. Because all of us have sinned. And “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Barabbas may have been the one physically freed because Jesus was sentenced to death, but it is God’s plan that all who trust in Jesus experience an even greater freedom, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus gets what we deserve, while we get what He has earned. And that is even better than fair—it’s grace.