Ever wondered what “scot-free” means? Me neither…but it is worth a quick read to find out. It’s a Scandinavian term for avoiding tax payments, similar to “duty free.” People who find a way to wiggle out of paying their taxes have been getting off “scot-free” – at least for a while.
Last year one of my precious deductions turned 17 and my other one got married, so I owe a lot more money to the IRS this year. What could I possibly say to Uncle Sam to convince him to let me get off scot-free this year?
Get ready, because tax day is coming in four weeks. We also need to get ready for Passover and Easter, which start on the same weekend in two weeks. What do these three events have in common? Our debts. I will begrudgingly and eventually pay my debt to the government, but quite frankly, I cannot afford to pay my sin debt.
A guy named Barabbas was in the same situation. He was on death row after being convicted of murder, sedition/treason, and robbery. (Matt. 27:20; Mark 15:7; Luke 23:25; John 18:40). Matthew called him “a notorious prisoner.” John called him a “revolutionary.” Barabbas owed a huge debt to God and the government, neither of which he could wiggle out of.
It was a customary courtesy for the governor of Judea to release a death row prisoner on Passover. After all, Passover was all about averting judgment. When the death angel saw the blood of the original Passover lamb in Egypt, he passed over that home and judgment was averted. Our Lord’s Supper/communion is the ultimate fulfillment of what Passover celebrates – freedom from sin and its eternal consequences.
Pilate offered to give Jesus the Passover pardon, but the religious leaders convinced the crowd “to release Barabbas.” You know the rest of the story: Governor Pilate gave into the crowd instead of his conscience and crucified an innocent man. Jesus took Barnabbas’ place on a cross meant for him.
I am Barabbas. You are Barabbas, too. We are the guilty ones who deserve death and are unable to pay off our sin debts to God. Yet even in our guilt, we have been offered an Easter pardon to get off scot-free (Rom. 5:8). Since Jesus took our place and paid our debts, Easter still matters to us today…and it will matter a thousand years from now, for that matter.
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
He didn’t just take our sin; the innocent Lamb of God became sin so you and I can become the righteousness of God. So Barabbas apparently goes immediately from death row on the morning of his execution, to freedom, pardon, amnesty…scot-free. That is a good day!
He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds (1 Pet. 2:24).
I’m curious about what happened to Barabbas after he was pardoned. Did Barabbas watch Jesus being scourged? Did he follow Jesus to the cross and say, “Thank you?” Did Passover matter to Barabbas? Does Easter matter to us? Regardless of what Barabbas did, we should look at the cross and say, “Thank you, Jesus, for paying my sin debt on the cross so that I might live forever scot-free!”
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
Happy Passover. Happy Tax Day. Happy Easter!