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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Ziefle

Sons and Daughters

Continuing a blogging journey through Matthew that is now nearly at an end, I today stop in the 27th chapter for a brief moment.

As the story of Jesus' earthly life approaches its completion, he stands before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate interrogates him, and then indicates a desire to release a prisoner, as was the custom. He asks:

"Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?" (27:17b)

We know which way things went. They ask that Jesus Barabbas be let go. Jesus of Nazareth heads to the Cross.

What is interesting here--a little nugget, if you will--is that one particular man goes free while another is condemned. Both are named Jesus. One is from Nazareth and is called "Messiah." The other? A prisoner surnamed Barabbas, which in the language of the time means something like "son of the father" or "son of the teacher."

Do you see it? The son of an earthly father or teacher is set free, while the Son of the Father (i.e. God) is marched to death. Jesus of Nazareth in exchange for Barabbas. And herein, in just one small snapshot, is a gospel picture: the Son of God in the place of the sons and daughters of fathers/mothers/teachers the world over.

I know nothing else of this man Jesus Barabbas after this moment. And, in the grand scale of the billions that have lived in the history of the human race I know correspondingly little. But I do know about Jesus of Nazareth and His work on behalf of all of us. Without that work, motivated in love, existence ends in a place we never intended and little desire: death. Thanks be to God that this ultimate word need no longer be the final one.



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