The Thief and the Middle Cross

C.I. Scofield was a preacher and writer. He penned the following Biblical article about Barabbas who was sentenced to death and expected to die the next morning for his crime. However, it was a custom at Passover for the Roman governor to release a Jewish prisoner. (Following Titles added and article condensed)

Barabbas was a criminal

Barabbas was condemned to die. No one has ever questioned the justice of his sentence. He was a rebel against the law, a robber and a murderer. He was not under probation, but under doom. He was not awaiting trial, but execution. Just before him, as his only prospect, was the awful death of crucifixion. He knew what that meant: long hours of unspeakable agony, the hands and feet torn by great spikes, the wrist and shoulder joints dislocated by the dragging down of the body, each quivering nerve a separate torture through tension, a burning, unquenchable thirst, and, all around, a jeering, taunting mob. All the horizon of his life is narrowed to that. The only question is, when?

A Pardon : Barabbas is set free

Then the night falls. But it is a disturbed night. Even in the prison it is perceived that something unusual is occurring. Confused noises, outcries, the tramping of feet, penetrate the thick walls. Barabbas dumbly wonders what it all means. Perhaps it is another insurrection such as that he, poor fool, raised against the majestic, inflexible Law. But the night wears on, and at last it is daylight—the light of his last day! And now he hears footsteps, the key grinds in the lock, his prison door swings open, but, just as he is summoning all his brute’s fortitude for the ordeal which awaits him, he hears the joyful words: “Go free! Go free! Barabbas; another takes your place; another is to die between the two malefactors (criminals).”

Barabbas lives while Jesus dies

As Barabbas emerged into the free, glorious sunshine, the crowd was already surging out toward the Place of the Skull. And then, if not before, the desire must have arisen to know who had been condemned to die in his place. One can, easily imagine how Barabbas followed the throng, striving eagerly to see the Man who was to die for him.

The Substitute: The innocent takes the place of the guilty

His substitute in agony there was the new Teacher out of Galilee, the Man who spoke as never man spoke, the Man whose life had been absolutely without sin. Adam sinned, and Abraham and Moses, and all the prophets, but not this Man.

5 Things Barabbas Knew

First, he knew that he was a guilty wretch, under the righteous condemnation of the law (Luke 23:25). And in both these respects Barabbas was a representative of all men (Rom. 3:10-20, 23; Gal. 3:10).

Secondly, Barabbas knew that the Sufferer before him had done no sin (John 8:46; John 19:4; 1 Peter 2:22).

Thirdly, he knew that Jesus was, for him, a true substitute. He was verily and actually dying in his place and stead; an innocent and holy being bearing the very penalty which the law had justly decreed to him, Barabbas. Whoever, in the coming ages, might question whether Christ’s death was vicarious (done in place of) and substitutional, he could never question it (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; 1 Peter 2:22-24; 3:18; Isa. 53:5- 6).

Fourthly, he knew that he had done nothing whatever to merit the marvelous interposition (intervention) of that substitutional death. Whatever may have been back of it, it reached him as an act of pure grace (Psalm 69:19-20; Eph. 2:4-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 2:11; Rom. 4:4-5).

Fifthly, he knew that Christ’s death for him was perfectly efficacious (effective). There was, therefore, nothing for him to add to it. Just because Christ was dying, he was living. The only question before Pilate was whether Christ should die or Barabbas. When it was decided that Christ should die, Barabbas was set free. His assurance was complete the instant that his Substitute said, “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost (John 19:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rom. 5:19; 1 John 1:7; Col. 1:20; Heb. 10:10,14). – by C.I. Scofield

Like Barabbas, we deserve an eternal death sentence. But thank God that He sent His Son so that we might have everlasting life. It is simply received by faith in Christ and what he did. It is a one-time act of hearing (understanding the gospel) and believing it, which causes an irreversible change in your final destiny. The moment you believe in Him you pass from death to life and have the assurance of heaven! (John 5:24; I John 5:13)

Find out how to be secure in your relationship with God.

Check out , Assurance of Heaven, an in-depth Biblical study into how you can know you with certainty that heaven is your final destination, while learning to discern wrong teachings that may cause you to doubt. Download a FREE Study Guide that compliments the book.

Thank you for visiting this site. I invite you to follow as we continue to explore God’s amazing grace.

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