I remembered the man stepping forward that day in court. Just an ordinary American guy.
He worked hard and had a winning personality. You liked him instantly.
But all those positive qualities helped mask who he really was: a troubled sin-sick soul, a heart full of wickedness. A man filled with pride. A notorious rebellious spirit, a thief and a murderer, he now stands helpless and powerless. He’s hurt so many people. The death sentence is what he deserves.
Does the man plead guilty or maintain his innocence? What will the verdict be?
Think about this for a moment. How often do we claim our innocence when confronted over a sin or for some wrong? How often do we deflect our problems and keep rolling on in blissful ignorance?
What do Martha Stewart, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have in common? Sadly, they all maintained their innocence when confronted with their crimes. They were guilty and, in a way, so are we.
Consider Gov. Pilate in Matthew 27:15-26 after he had set free the notorious prisoner Barabbas and sent Jesus Christ to be scourged and crucified. He said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” An empty proclamation. Sweet words camouflaging the real truth: guilt.
How innocent are you? How easy it is to render judgment and ignore the fact that we are guilty of the same, or worse.
This is a real concern of Jesus when he states in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that you be not judged” — a simple statement that addresses the “woke” culture of our day.
How can we demand change when we are as guilty?
Jesus says to first remove the beam (or impediment) from your own eye, then you would be in a far better position to foster genuine change in others.
So here stands Barabbas, a notorious criminal, seditious, rebellious, a robber, a murderer. Opposite Barabbas stands Jesus, notorious for his acts of kindness, generosity, love and compassion.
One stands guilty, deserving of death. One stands innocent, worthy of all honor. Yet the “woke” crowd of the day shouts the loudest and gets their way. The innocent becomes a criminal and is judged to die. The guilty is set free, released from judgment of death.
All of this this is the drama of redemption unfolding historically and providentially.
Barabbas is a picture of the condition of our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Like Barabbas, we stand guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and deserve death (Romans 6:23).
No one is innocent. Yet, like Barabbas we have been set free. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.”
I started this devotional talking about a memory of a man stepping forward in court. That was the day I met Jesus. I stood in His arena of righteousness, and there I recognized the condition of my heart.
I am guilty. I stood powerless and helpless. I deserved death, yet I was given grace. I was redeemed by the blood of the innocent lamb. (The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord Romans 6:23.)
Am I innocent? I am innocent only through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.