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October 27 Today’s Reading: Luke 23
“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas…And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.”
What a beautiful picture we have here of the Gospel. Barabbas, the guilty man, was set free. The Lord Jesus Christ, the holy, innocent Lamb of God, died in his place. A great sinner went free because a great Substitute took his place. Barabbas was spared because Christ died in his place. That is, in its very essence and glory, the Gospel of God. It can be summed up in one word — Substitution (Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-8; 8:1-4, 32-34; 2 Corinthians5:20-21).
Luke 23 describes the slaying of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Whenever we think about the death of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, we ought to always remember three things.
1. The death of Christ upon the cursed tree was a substitutionary sacrifice.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer for any crimes of His own. He did not die because of His own sins. He was not cut off from the land of the living for His own transgressions. The Lord of Glory died upon the cross for our sins, for the transgressions of His people, for the iniquities of God’s elect, which were made His and justly imputed to Him. Yes, our all-glorious Christ was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He “bare our sins in His own body” upon the cursed tree, and was made a curse for us, that the blessing of God’s salvation might be ours in Him (Isaiah 53:4-6, 8; Daniel 9:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
2. The substitutionary sacrifice and death of our Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point, the essence, and the message of all the Word of God.
The law was given at Sinai to show us our need of a substitute. All the sacrifices, rites, rituals, and ceremonies of the Old Testament Scriptures, — all the priests, priestly garments, and priestly functions, — all the deliverances of Israel from the hands of their enemies, — all the services of the tabernacle and the temple, — all the psalms, all the prophets, and all the historical narratives, — the manna, the rock, the brazen serpent, the pillars of fire and cloud, everything in the Old Testament and in the New was written by inspiration of God the Holy Ghost to reveal Christ, to show us our great, glorious, almighty Substitute (Luke 24:27, 44-45; 1 Peter 1:23-25; John 20:30-31).
3. The cross of Christ, the doctrine of substitution, is both the revelation of the glory of God and the glory of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Galatians 6:14).
The death of Christ upon the cross, the sacrifice of God’s Lamb as our sin-atonement, is the life of our souls. Had the Lord Jesus Christ not died in our stead, the justice of God could never have been satisfied; and we would have perished in our sins forever.
God’s Unspeakable Gift
When the apostle Paul thought of these things, he said, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!” May God the Holy Spirit so graciously flood our hearts and souls with the knowledge of our crucified Substitute that we may ever have our hearts and minds fixed upon our blessed Savior and His great sacrifice of Himself for us, and have the apostle’s words reverberating in our souls. — “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”