Jesus loved Barabbas. He loved this murderer, this insurrectionist, this despicable man languishing in a Roman prison, given the sentence of death. He loved Barabbas to such an extent that He was willing to die for him. Barabbas was guilty, in fact as guilty as any man could be; Jesus was innocent, more holy and righteous than any person who had ever lived. But Jesus died and Barabbas lived. Jesus died in the place of Barabbas.
“They rise and needs will have my dear Lord made away; a murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay. Yet cheerful He to suffering goes that He His foes from thence might free.”
Jesus loves you. He loves you, even though you are sinful, even though you are corrupted, even though you are under the sentence of death. He loves you to such an extent that He was willing to die for you. You are guilty, in fact as guilty as every human since Adam and Eve. Jesus is innocent, more holy and righteous than any person who had ever lived. But Jesus died, and you will live. Jesus died in your place. “Yet cheerful He to suffering goes that He His foes from thence might free.” He died in the place of His greatest enemies; He died in place of His friends. He died in place of the ones who nailed Him to the cross; He died for you and me. Martin Luther called this the ‘great exchange.’ Jesus takes all that is ours: our sin, our shame, and our guilt, and makes it His own. In return, He gives us all that is His: His righteousness, His holiness, and His standing before God. Through His death and resurrection, all that is Christ’s is now yours. “Yet cheerful He to suffering goes.” Christ goes to the cross cheerfully because of His love for you and me. This is truly love unknown, love incomprehensible, love divine. God is love, and He demonstrates this most clearly on Good Friday, in the cross of Christ.
Almighty God, graciously behold this your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.