LHM Lenten Devotion – March 5, 2014 “Death Row Pardon”


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Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Reverend Wayne Palmer

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“Death Row Pardon”

Ash Wednesday — March 5, 2014

Lenten devo cover 2014Read Matthew 27:15-26. TEXT: “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17).

The insurgent brooded as he watched the sky slowly lighten in the East. For the thousandth time he inspected the bars in his cell and the chains on his wrists; there was no escape. He knew this would likely be the last sunrise he’d ever see. Soon the soldiers would come to take him to Skull Hill.

The commanding officer ordered the cell door opened, and his two partners in crime were led off by guards. The condemned man stepped forward to take his turn. But the centurion unlocked his chains instead. “Today’s your lucky day, Barabbas. You’re free to go-Governor Pilate’s orders. Some Galilean’s taking your place.”

Could you imagine being on death row, ready to march to your execution and getting a last-second reprieve? That’s what happened on Good Friday nearly 2,000 years ago. The crowds demanded Barabbas be released and Jesus be crucified. The innocent man was condemned to death, the guilty man set free.

Actually, you and I are a lot like Barabbas. We are all guilty of sins against God and against humanity, and we rightly deserve the sentence of physical death and eternal torment in hell. But Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son, steps forward to suffer the penalty and punishment we deserve. He will go to the cross to take our place, suffering the hell we deserve, so God’s holiness and justice can be satisfied and we can be set free.

THE PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, I deserve punishment and death, yet You have freely taken my place. Give me true regret and sorrow over my sins, that I may receive the forgiveness and peace You won on the cross for all of us. Amen.


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