Evening Reading for October 22

John 18:37-40
Suggested further reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Verse 40 describes the complete failure of Pilate's notable plan, by which he hoped to satisfy the Jews and yet release Jesus. The fierce and bigoted party of Caiaphas would not listen to his proposal for a moment. They declared they would rather have Barabbas, a notorious prisoner in the hands of the Romans, released than Jesus. Nothing would content them but our Lord's death. Barabbas, we know from St Luke (23:19), was a murderer as well as a robber. The Jews were asked to decide whether the holy Jesus or the vile criminal should be let go free and released from prison. Such was their utter hardness, bitterness, cruelty and hatred of our Lord that they actually declare they would rather have Barabbas set free than Jesus! Nothing, in short, would satisfy them but Christ's blood. Thus they committed the great sin which Peter charges home on them not long after: `Ye denied Jesus in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go... Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you' (Acts 3:13-14). They publicly declared that they liked a robber and a murderer better than Christ!

We have here a lively illustration of the great Christian doctrine of substitution. Barabbas, the real criminal, is acquitted and let go free. Jesus, innocent and guiltless, is condemned and sentenced to death. So is it in the salvation of our souls. We are all by nature like Barabbas and deserve God's wrath and condemnation; yet he was accounted righteous and set free. The Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly innocent and yet he is counted a sinner, punished as a sinner and put to death that we may live. Christ suffers, though guiltless, that we may be pardoned. We are pardoned, though guilty, because of what Christ does for us. We are sinners and yet counted righteous. Christ is righteous and yet counted a sinner. Happy is that man who understands this doctrine and has laid hold on it by faith for the salvation of his own soul.
For meditation:

Because the sinless Saviour died,

My sinful soul is counted free

(Bancroft).


These readings (ISBN: 0 85234 420 1) are copyrighted and made available with permission by
Evangelical Press; 12 Wooler St., Darlington, Co, Durham, England, DL1 1RQ