SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In the opening of the chapter we see Judas hang himself. He is guilty for betraying Jesus, and doesn't understand that because of the grace of God there is always forgiveness and a second chance available.
- Jesus is handed over to the Roman government. Pilate, the Roman governor, wants to release Jesus. He had a custom of releasing a Jewish prisoner at the Passover holiday and suggests they release Jesus, but the religious leaders persuade the crowd to demand Jesus' execution and have a murderer named Barabbas released. (Barabbas deserved to die. Jesus didn't. Jesus took Barabbas' place.)
- Then Jesus is tortured through flogging, ridiculed and, finally, crucified. Crucifixion is considered the most painful and humiliating way ever designed to execute a person. In fact, it was so bad, "crucifixion" or "cross" were words people didn't speak back then. Cicero, a Roman spokesman, recommended, "the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen's body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears."
- Just as he did for Barabbas, Jesus took our place. Like the murderer, we are guilty of breaking God's Law and, in God's economy, all sin deserves punishment. But Jesus took the punishment for our rebellion. This shows both the depth of our sin and the depth of God's love for us. You are worse than you think, and more loved than you could dare to imagine.
- Take a moment to think about what Jesus went through for you. Then meditate on the fact that Jesus loved you so much he died for you. How should God loving you that much change your life? How should it change your day today?