The Garden of Gethsemane
There is a pivotal moment in Jesus’ life and ministry. It is during his time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane just before he was betrayed by Judas.
The bible tells us that Jesus was in great anguish and that he pleaded with his Heavenly Father to remove the burden of death from him. As he wrestled with God in prayer he resolved to fulfill his role as a sacrifice for humanity’s sins.
Paul says in Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God was willing to give up his only son so that sinners like you and I could be set free from the bondage of our choices. And Jesus freely chose to give his own life so that you would not have to pay the penalty that you deserved for those sinful choices.
Jesus Before Pilate
The best illustration we have of this love in action is on the day that Jesus was crucified. We are told that Pilate wanted nothing to do with putting Jesus to death. However, he was in a precarious situation because the Jewish leaders were insisting that Jesus die. If Pilate were to ignore the demands of these religious leaders he would have a riot on his hands. And the powers of Rome were getting tired of rebellious uprisings from the Jewish population.
Pilate was in jeopardy of losing his position and his way of life yet, he was still torn because he confessed that he did not find any fault in Jesus. His conscience was pulling him in one direction and the crowd was pulling him in another.
In hopes of resolving this impossible situation that he found himself in, he brought out two prisoners. One was Jesus and the other was a criminal named Barabbas. He gave the people a choice to set one of these men free. Pilate was sure the people would choose Jesus. After all, Barabbas was guilty, and everyone knew it.
When Pilate gave the crowd a choice they chose to set Barabbas free. A man that everyone knew was guilty and deserving of punishment for his crimes.
Still looking for an escape and hoping not to be pressured into executing an innocent man, Pilate then asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus.
“Crucify him!” “Crucify him!”
The crowd was unrelenting.
As we are told Jesu, was sent to be hung on a Roman cross. He was put to death as an innocent man in place of a man that everyone knew was guilty.
The Love of Christ
As Paul so eloquently stated, Jesus died for us. You, me, and all of human history. Past, present, and future. So that we would not have to pay the penalty for our sins.
He was innocent, and we are guilty. He traded places with us just like he traded places with Barabbas. I can think of no greater act of love.