“So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished.”
As we discussed yesterday, Jesus was completely innocent. He didn’t do anything worthy of receiving the death penalty, even by the judgement of Pontius Pilate. Yet why did Jesus have to be innocent? Luke paints such a wonderful picture of why an innocent Jesus had to die.
As was the custom every year, the Governor would release a prisoner to appease ‘the people’ and keep them on his side. Incredibly, the crowds choose a murderer to be released instead of an innocent man. Yet this is imagery paints a marvellous picture in understanding the great exchange that took place at the cross; the guilty released from their debt, by an innocent sacrifice.
Hebrews 8 verse 26 tells us that Jesus’ innocence was exactly what we needed.. “He is the kind of High priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honour in Heaven.” If Jesus had sinned, then His own sacrifice would have been meaningless. Jesus needed to be perfect and spotless in order to present Himself before God as our substitution. Just as in the Old Covenant, a spotless lamb was presented as a sacrifice for the sins of the people, so Jesus had to be unblemished for our sins.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
God in His grace, allowed Jesus, His innocent Son, to become our sacrifice, so that we can be made right with God. This picture was wonderfully shown, when Barabbas was released and Jesus was punished instead. Jesus took not only Barabbas’ sins, but all of humanities sins to the cross, and in doing so, made us right before the Father. He now stands as our intercessor forever, as the Perfect High Priest! Because Jesus was innocent, we can now stand before the Father as innocent children.