Monday, February 29, 2016

Barabas, Me, & You, Are All Scapegoats

Like our sin that goes away never to be brought up again by God, so too is Barabbas to history. Neither the Christian nor the Jewish writings ever mention Barabbas again. Like our sins, he is never to be heard from again. I guess, like the scapegoat which was released into the desert or wilderness to never be seen again, so to is Barabbas and our sins to God.

The word scapegoat means something entirely opposite from what it meant at the writing of our King James Bible. The word is used most often, I would suppose, in sports media today. It is used when a particular player or coach is being blamed for a team's poor performance in a game or season. The person receiving the brunt of the blame game is called the scapegoat. The rest of the team is free from blame and the scapegoat is blamed as the reason for a lack of success.

And Aaron shall cast lots on the two he-goats; one lot for Jehovah and the other lot for a complete removal. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which Jehovah's lot fell, and offer it for a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the complete removal shall be presented alive before Jehovah, to make an atonement with him, to let him go for a complete removal into the wilderness. Leviticus 16:8-19

Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom do you desire that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?
Matthew 27:17 

The governor answered and said to them, Which of the two do you desire that I release to you? They said, Barabbas. Matthew 27:21

Then he released Barabbas to them. And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
Matthew 27:26

From the moment Adam and Eve rejected God for the world, God had a plan for how man could be reconciled with Him. 

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says he did not come to destroy the Law or the prophets but rather he came to fulfill them. God was preparing his people in the Old Testament for the coming of Jesus and as such the sacrificial system was getting his people into the mindset that the blood is what makes atonement for sin.

Now we consider Barabbas' name we find something most fascinating. His name literally meant son of the father. Bar means son for example, Simon Bar-Jonah meant Simon, son of Jonah; Abbas or abba means father. So too we are sons (generically speaking) of our Father in heaven (Rom. 8:15). Thus, we see that the example of Barabbas teaches us, among other things, the high price paid for us to be sons and daughters of our Father – sons and daughters set free from deserved death – by the price of the blood of our elder brother, Jesus the Messiah.

Yom Kippur is the Jewish feast otherwise known as the Day of Atonement. It is observed on the 10th day of the 7th month (Lev 23:27). It is atonement for Israel. Just like all the other six feasts it is prophetic and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ! This is the most important date on the Hebrew calendar. The celebration is observed by using two goats.

A careful examination of Leviticus 16:8-10 gives us a inspired understanding of the scapegoat offering. On this day one goat is for the Lord, the other is for the scapegoat. One goat is put to death, the other shall go free. One goat represents substitution, the other the carrying away of sins.

No doubt the Old Testament Jew knew the symbolic meaning of the Day of Atonement. They were looking to be spared another year. A sigh of relief surely expelled out of them as they saw the scapegoat set free. The Lord’s goat had been slain and the blood applied to atone the nation.

Now, let us fast forward about 1400 years to Pilate’s Court. Jesus of Nazareth has been wrongfully accused by his own countrymen of blasphemy. The religious leaders of Israel bring him before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate that he may be punished for his accused crime.

Pilate’s examination of Jesus Christ finds that he has done nothing wrong, so he decides to release him. The mob has no part of it. They make threats if Jesus is not condemned. Pilate’s plan changes as he sees the envy within the mob. He gives them a choice of which prisoner they would have go free at Passover: Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Barabbas. Barabbas, a infamous bandit in Jerusalem, go free? Now that is blasphemy! This is the choice for the chief priests. Barabbas is mentioned in all four gospels:

* Refers to him a as a notable prisoner. He is highly distinguished and well-known throughout the region. He is their Bonnie and Clyde, Billy the Kid, Charles Manson. Barabbas is hated and feared by all.

*Refers to Barabbas as a murder, the leader of a revolt against Pilate. Barabbas had lead a riot in resistance to Jewish religious law and Roman jurisdiction, in which men were killed.

*Refers to Jesus Barabbas as a murder.

*Refers to him as a robber.

In the end, the Chief Priests made their choice: Jesus Barabbas is the scapegoat, and Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord’s goat. Barabbas goes free and Jesus Christ goes to Calvary. Hallelujah, the real Day of Atonement has come to Israel!

What about me? Where does my life fit into this story? I am the scapegoat. I am Jesus Barabbas. Jesus Christ died as my substitution on Calvary. The Lord’s goat is slain, while the scapegoat goes free. The Word of God tells us “who the son has set free is free indeed.” Next time you think about God and eternal life remember: the scapegoat, Barabbas, and me.

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