Wrongly convicted, the defendant waits for his sentence to be passed.
Death by electrocution.
For a crime he did not commit.
The end of the road is near, and the last chance of being freed has passed. His appeal had been rejected.
The evidence against him was stacked too high, the prosecutor’s case too thick.
In the morning, he would take one last look at this world before leaving it forever.
You might be picturing several people right now who had a similar circumstance to this.
Maybe it was Mary Surratt who was hanged for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln though she pulled no trigger.
Maybe it was Carlos DeLuna, Ruben Cantu, Larry Griffin, or David Spence who all could not escape the hangman though they were later proved innocent.
Maybe it was Jesus Christ, a man who lived a perfect life and yet found himself sentenced to death – a grisly execution carried out by the Roman Empire.
Last week we discussed Jesus’ trial by the Sanhedrin and how they convicted him of a crime punishable by death – claiming to be God.
However, the religious leaders could not pass death sentences. So, they brought him to the governor Pontius Pilate who in turn sent him to Herod Antipas (known as the “fox”), who after questioning him thoroughly and treating Jesus with scorn and contempt… sent him back to Pilate.
That’s quite a bit of walking in one evening!
The second time the Jews came back with Jesus to Pilate, Pilate brought him inside and asked him a few questions, knowing he was innocent of any true crimes:
“Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, ‘Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about me?’
‘I’m not a Jew, am I?’ Pilate replied. ‘Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?’
‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ said Jesus. ‘If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’
‘You are a king then?’ Pilate asked.
‘You say that I’m a king,’ Jesus replied. ‘I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’
‘What is truth?’ said Pilate.
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging him.’” (John 18:33-38)
Pilate asked him directly what crime he had committed, and Jesus’ answer was probably not what the governor was expecting. Jesus claimed to have a powerful heavenly kingdom and on course for exactly what he was born to do – die. Furthermore, he claimed to know the truth, and if we remember, he told his disciples he is the way, the truth, and the life and that the truth will set us free from the blindness of sin and the error of our ways.
Pilate, not wanting to give Jesus the death sentence, had one more card to play. He was also warned by his wife that Jesus was a righteous man, and he should not kill him.
Traditionally, Pilate would pardon one man for the festival of Passover. He gave the crowd two options – Jesus or Barabbas.
Knowing the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus out of jealousy, Pilate thought by putting Jesus next to a true criminal – Barabbas, the choice would be easy.
Barabbas was a known murderer, a zealot, a war criminal. And yet, not a week after the people of Jerusalem ushered in Jesus with honor, respect, and “Hosanna’s”, they turned on him just as quickly as the chief priests and elders had persuaded the crowd to choose Barabbas.
“The governor asked them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’
‘Barabbas!’ they answered.
Pilate asked them, ‘What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?’
They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’
Then he said, ‘Why? What has he done wrong?’
But they kept shouting all the more, ‘Crucify him!’” (Matthew 27:21-23)
Jesus’ fate is sealed. His sentence has been passed. There’s only one way ahead – certain death.
I have heard it compared that all of us – humanity as a whole, are like Barabbas. We should be the ones to die for our sins according to the righteous justice of God.
Another familiar metaphor might be in the “Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” when the child Edmund belongs to the witch to die but Aslan takes his place.
Jesus takes the death sentence to save us from it.
And by this, we know true love, that Jesus laid down his life for us. And in turn, we should live our lives with a similar kind of selflessness.
In love and truth,
Copyright © 2021 by Melody Turner. All rights reserved. Written exclusively for MXTV (mxtv.org/blog) No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from MXTV.