Tag: service

Remembrance Day Thoughts

The theme of our Remembrance Day Chapel this year was sacrifice. I wrote a few thoughts on the subject that I would like to share:

God set the example: Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them (Gen. 3:21). An animal, probably two since there were two tunics made, had to be killed to make the tunics. A life was required and blood had to be shed so that the ‘nakedness’ of humanity could be covered.

Abel was the first human to follow the example that God set: Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering (Gen. 4:4). Abel learned that blood needed to be shed in order to be made right with God; this required an animal sacrifice. By offering a blood sacrifice, Abel recognized that the ‘wages of sin is death’ (Rom. 6:23).

The first description of sacrifice includes love, a father, a son, and a substitute: Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a [sacrifice] burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you…Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Gen. 22:1-2, 13). This, of course, is a foreshadowing of the day when the Father, who loved His only Son, allowed His Son to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah (now called Calvary) in our stead.

A sacrifice carries with it the idea of a substitute: He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness (Lev. 16:7-10). The scapegoat took on the sin of the nation and was then sent out into the wilderness to die. This reminds us of the service men (and women) who were sent out to fight on the battlefields (also to die?) for us.

Finally, being willing to be a sacrifice is the greatest form of love we can display: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13). And this is how we arrive at Remembrance Day. We remember those who were willing to lay down their lives for love of country and love of their brothers (and sisters, later) in arms. Our soldiers were willing to sacrifice themselves so that we might have freedom (life): thank you!

-from those of us who benefit from your sacrifice without having to pay the price ourselves.

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Count Your Blessings

Sometimes when we go through experiences, we wonder if God is trying to tell us something. I have just had that experience.

For last Sunday, I chose the songs we would sing. Since I knew what the text would be (Acts 27), I chose songs that fit that sermon topic. This particular hymn came to mind:

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God has done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      *Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
      [*And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.]
  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  4. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

That was Sunday. Monday I sat down with my two VP’s and we talked about the events of last week and what we needed to be aware of for this week. Mr. Long, who had just come back from the Grade 11 canoe trip to the Missinipe area, relayed an incident from that trip. When one student got turned around, rather than giving in to panic, the student stopped to thank God for His many blessings. The student was then able to get turned around correctly and reached camp safely. How? By focusing on the blessings (and Blessings-Giver).

The third incident took place this morning as I was talking with a teacher in my office. She commented on the picture behind my desk. I explained to her that this is what the forest behind my house in Campbell River looked like.20180921_091834

This would have been a 5 minute walk away. Her comment, like that of so many others, was, ‘How could you leave that to come here?’ I told her that God called us from there to here and that we were simply obedient to His call. However, after the conversation I reflected on where we had lived (and now live) and was reminded of the many blessings I have here.

Over the last two weeks I have had three reminders of counting my blessings. I wonder if God is trying to tell me to count my blessings. In that case, I had better start….

Sometimes we take our eyes off of what God is doing in us and through us and we focus on the negative. God always calls us to count our blessings (as He is the giver of every blessing) and to focus on Him. In these weeks as the weather turns grey and the temperature drops (snow this morning!), remember to count your blessings (and echo Paul as he said ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ Eph. 1:3).

Who Is In Charge Anyways?

Every year brings change. Dealing with change is hard. It is emotionally draining, stressful, and often incomprehensible. This year, one of the challenging changes is that enrollment has dropped and this has necessitated a corresponding drop in teaching staff.

It is always difficult to say good-bye to teachers, especially if they have worked in the building for many years. School staff, particularly in a Christian school context, often become like family and that makes changing schools even more stressful.

This year we have seven teachers moving to different positions and one teacher superannuating. The seven teachers are:

Chelsea Abramoff

Carmen Bekkatla

Rebecca Krieg

Wes Letkeman

Seth Peters

Sheryl Salen

Michelle Wiens

Tracy Janzen is superannuating this year.

We want to thank all eight of these teachers for the time and effort they have put into SCS. Without them, we would not have been able to offer all the programs that we have offered. We will miss them and ask for God’s blessing on them as they transition to different assignments next year.

Emotional turmoil is a common side effect of change. We often play with metaphors such as ‘the ship (SCS) is sinking’ or ‘how can those in charge do this’? There are two passages in Scripture that deal with this topic. The first one is Mark 4:35-41: 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

There are several key messages found in this passage. First, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would cross over to the other side. Jesus, being all-knowing, knew what would happen. The storm did not catch Him off guard. He was not surprised by the storm. A second message is that there were other boats there with the one that the disciples traveled on. The other boats were noted at the beginning. Once the wind started, the other boats were ignored. They were impacted by the storm as well. And yet, they were no longer important to the disciples. Other schools have gone through what we go through. We may look to them at first, but often choose to ignore that other schools have gone through similar situations as well (and have survived or even thrived). The disciples accused the Lord of not caring. They took their eyes off Him and lingered on the storm. No wonder they worried. The chorus of Helen Lemmel’s famous hymn comes to mind here:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

After the disciples woke the Lord Jesus up, and accused Him, He rebuked the storm and it stopped. There are times when the storms of life are close to swamping us. At such times, we need to remember to consider Christ and not our issues and that He is with us in the midst of the storm. That fact should be more than enough to bring calm to our spirits.

The second passage is Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. This is a similar situation. As far as Isaiah could tell, the throne was empty (King Uzziah was now dead). He (may) have felt like panicking, until he lifted his eyes and had a vision of the heavenly throne. THAT throne was still filled; God was still on the throne and in control. If Isaiah had wondered who may have been in charge now that the king was dead, he no longer needed to wonder: God was still in charge.

We need to come to the same conclusion. There will be times when we wonder why we are going through the different (difficult) circumstances. During such times we need to remember that God is still on the throne and that the Lord Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm.

The following hymn shows this really well. The storm is acknowledged at the beginning, but the calming presence of Christ is relied on at the end. I’m sure we can relate.

Peace, Be Still

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?

Refrain

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

 

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.

Refrain

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

Refrain

What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Part 5

Part 9

Suffering and Persecution Refocuses Us on Eternity

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:14-16).

In these verses, we are reminded that the light afflictions which we suffer foretell a greater reality. Not only are they a token reminding us of what is to come, but they are the tool which is ‘working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ Could our lack of vision be due to a refusal to embrace the ‘light afflictions’ that will accompany being associated with Jesus Christ? Could our lack of eternal perspective flow from our tight grip on temporal things? Does our response to life’s afflictions cause others to refocus on eternity, or does it point them to futile pursuits that will end up looking like Athens’ abandoned Olympic Park?

Part 10

Suffering and Persecution Revives our Hope

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25).

How easy is it to grow weary! But notice again the blessed work of suffering.

Not only does suffering refocus us on eternity, but it also revives our hope. ‘Hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?’ What is this hope? ‘Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13). Could it be that, as members of the bride of Christ, we have such little longing for our Bridegroom’s return because we are far too comfortable in the world that crucified Him?

In 1 John 3:2-3, the apostle states, ‘We know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself as He is pure.’ Do we long to be like Him? Affliction, persecution, and suffering awake us to the reality that our hope is not to live a long life in this world, but to be in his presence. ‘For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it one we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life’ (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

When Your Life Earns a Question

Peter, a disciple who accompanied Christ throughout His earthly ministry, told the early church, ‘But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15). Our lives should invite questions. Questions about what? Our hope. And such questions are most likely to come from unbelievers when we rejoice in the lord amid hard times.

The kind of hope which surpasses earthly understanding doesn’t generally show on your wedding day or when your boss gives you a promotion. ‘Hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?’ (Romans 8:24). Hope evidences itself when the bottom falls out of your life and you still have a foundation to stand on. Are we allowing the difficult times to be the catalyst for demonstrating hope? Do we have something that the hurting world wants to participate in? Do our lives provoke questions?

When Jesus first sent out His disciples, He had warned them, ‘And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another’ (Matthew 10:22-23a). Persecution was not a matter of if, but when.

Before going to the cross, Jesus told His disciples, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’ (John 13:18-20a).

What if your greatest blessings come from persecution? What if Jesus meant what He said?

Bibliography

Bramsen, N. (2017). What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Dubuque, IA: Emmaus International.

The Boy Crisis

I just finished reading The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell and John Gray. It is a thick book, which, in this case, means that Farrell and Gray have been very thorough in their documentation. For this week’s blog, I’d like to copy the opening few paragraphs from his concluding chapter and make some comments about them [my comments will be in these square brackets].

“It was December 7, 1941. For years, we had been in denial of the crisis that was Hitler and the Axis powers. With Pearl Harbor, our denial ended.

Transforming denial into a response meant sixteen million of our sons being willing to sacrifice their lives. Yet our sons stepped up. And our daughters and parents joined them.

The new enemy is not Hitler. It is dad deprivation. [Dad deprivation has been linked to all sorts of issues, including ADHD and school shootings. According to Farrell and Gray, all of the school shooters in the US since Columbine have suffered from dad deprivation.] It is not the Axis powers. It is a ‘purpose void.’ It is not a need for your son to sacrifice his life but to find a purpose for his life. [This lack of purpose is a significant issue for boys in terms of education, vocation, and marriage. We should have a better track record because we are a part of the church, but it has not worked out like that. According to the Shorter Westminster Catechism, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever’. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry defined our purpose in this fashion: ‘According to the Bible, our purpose, the reason we are here, is for God’s glory.  In other words, our purpose is to praise God, worship him, to proclaim his greatness, and to accomplish his will.  This is what glorifies him.  Therefore, in this we find that God has given us a reason for our existence, a meaning for our existence.  We were created by him, according to his desire, and our lives are to be lived for him so that we might accomplish what he has for us to do.  When we trust the one who has made us, who works all things after the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11), then we are able to live a life of purpose.  How the particulars of that purpose are expressed is up to the individual’. It seems to me that we have lost sight of this purpose: we are not effectively communicating this to the next generation (I don’t think we have communicated this well to our generation).]

How do we get our sons to step up to a crisis for which there is no Pearl Harbor? A crisis that is more internal than external?

Whether our sons step up depends on how they are brought up. In the past, boys learned ‘I exist, therefore I serve.’ Today, many boys learn ‘I exist, therefore I deserve.’ [These two statements accurately describe the shift in culture; this is not merely generational but symptomatic of society in general.]

Being needed to serve creates a sense of purpose. Being served creates a sense of entitlement. Most parents know this intellectually, but our own need to be needed seduces us into serving our sons rather than teaching him to serve. [This is true. Leonard Sax, in his book The Collapse of Parenting, explains this phenomenon by reporting that parents desire to be buddies with their children rather than authority figures. Because parents have abdicated their role, their children, sons in particular, take the easiest road which, in this case, means being served. They see this example in the media (music videos and the like). As a result, the sense of entitlement grows and creates a greater downward pressure to be served.] Which contributes to our sons’ purpose void.Once our sons value serving over being served, they are more likely to step up when we both alert them to a crisis – such as the crisis of dad deprivation and the mission to be a great dad, and therefore an inspiration to others to be the same. [This is actually our responsibility to our sons, biblically speaking.]

Boys who become a failure to launch are most frequently devoid of the two Ps: purpose and postponed gratification. Boys devoid of the two Ps are often also devoid of the equal checks and balances of the other two Ps: two parents. When your son is dad enriched, he not only avoids the crisis of being dad deprived but is inspired with the mission to become a great dad.

Becoming a great dad is not a mission for every son. [Matthew 19:12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”] Your mission is to guide your son to discover his mission. [Not quite true. As parents, it is our mission to guide our sons to find their mission, but that includes helping him understand the role of the Holy Spirit in this process (according to Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them).] No piece of cake, because there’s no precedent. Our fathers did not learn to discover their mission; they learned to fulfill a mission someone else discovered. The ‘discoverer’ was the need to survive. His mission was provider-protector. [In one sense, fathers did not ‘discover’ their mission; they were given their mission by God. We are called to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. This provision also includes the idea of protection. Robert Lewis, Raising a Modern-Day Knight, Michael Gurian, The Purpose of Boys, The Wonder of Boys, Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift, The Collapse of Parenting, Steve Farrar, King Me, Point Man, Standing Tall, Eric Ludy, God’s Gift to Women, and David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church, The Map all deal with the topic of the purpose of men. There are many other books and authors on this topic, and we ought to look into this more in schools, in our homes, and in our churches.]

Your dad had two options: be the provider-protector or be a loser. Which didn’t allow for questions like, ‘What creates the glint in my eye?’ He learned to be a human doing first, and a human being second. Or not at all. Which often led him to withdraw from loving himself, and ultimately from the family he loved [This process has been around for a long time, but accelerated after WW II. This also speaks to our identity in Christ and our understanding of what God has actually called us to. Somehow we need to bridge the idea of being a provider-protector AND being able to do that which ‘creates a glint in my eye.’ With the messages that society is sending to our youth, most of our youth seem frozen in terms of what their purpose is and what they want to achieve/accomplish as they move into adulthood. Dads are sometimes required to provide in ways that take them out of the home for longer than they want. One issue around this, as Farrell and Gray explain, has to do with expectations. There is a much higher expectation of a fathers involvement with his family today at the same time that there are increased obligations on a father to fulfill his work obligations. Most jobs now require a father to be on-call almost 24/7 and to bring work home.] To him feeling that his life insurance policy is more valuable than his life [This reminds me of It’s a Wonderful Life].

Your mission to help your son discover his mission begins with helping him discover himself as a human being first, and then helping him find a way of being a human doing – of making a living – that supports him as a human being” (pp. 388-389).

Bibliography

Farrell, W. and Gray, J. (2018). The Boy Crisis: Why our boys are struggling and what we can do about it. Dallas, TX: Benbella Books.

What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Part 4

Part 6

Suffering and Persecution Renders the Platform for His Glory

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name (1 Peter 4:12-16).

Do we try to avoid the very situations that offer opportunities to show off the power and beauty of Christ?

Peter starts off by telling us not to be surprised or even find it remotely strange when tough times come. In much of the church today, there is a strange paradox…. The very things Jesus promised would happen if we follow Him are often the things that cause us to doubt His presence and love. What if the supposed detours in our life and the most direct route to true blessing? What if the most undesirable situations are platforms for God’s glory?

Part 7

Suffering and Persecution Reproves our Enemies

Only let your manner of life be worthy[a] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God (Philippians 1:27-28).

In West Africa, I have had many neighbors that the world might label ‘radical Islamists.’ Late one afternoon, shortly after moving into a new neighborhood, I set out to buy tomato paste at a little shack owned by a friend. I found what I was looking for. As I was about to head home, I mentioned that we would be hosting a Christmas party. I invited my friend to come join us in celebrating Jesus’ coming to earth.

Another young man in his mid-twenties overheard our conversation and asked, ‘Am I invited too?’ Quickly, I told him, ‘Of course!’ He quipped, ‘Are you sure you want the Al-Qaeda at your party?’ I told him that he was our neighbor and we wanted him there. Feeling more comfortable, he went on, ‘Do you believe the prophets?’ I quickly told him that I did, since the prophets pointed to Jesus. Knowing this game, he asked again, ‘Do you believe all the prophets?’ Understanding that he was asking if I believed in Mohammed, Islam’s final prophet, I replied, ‘My friend, I came into this shop to buy tomato paste. I found it. Now, will I continue searching for more tomato paste or will I go home and cook?’ ‘You’ll go home and cook,’ he replied. ‘Exactly,’ I continued. ‘In life, I was searching for peace, joy, hope, love, and eternal life. I found all these things and more in Jesus Christ. Mohammed came hundreds of years later and therefore is irrelevant to my faith. My search ended with Jesus. Why would I look elsewhere for what I’ve already found?’

Part 8

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12.

At times we pray against the very things that would bring us God’s blessing and reward. Jesus doesn’t merely suggest that those who are persecuted for His name will be blessed – He promises it. And as thought that were not enough, He tells us that this reward is ‘great.’ Let us not pray for persecution to stop, but for grace to endure – that Christ might be glorified.

In some parts of China, before new followers of Christ are baptized, they are asked to repeat this statement:

I am ready at any time or place to suffer, to be imprisoned, to escape imprisonment, and even to die for my Lord.

If you imprison me, you are giving me a captive audience to share the gospel with others.

If you put me in solitary, I can pray and meditate.

If you take my house and my goods, I can travel and share the gospel anywhere.

If you beat me, I’ll glorify God and it gives Him an opportunity to heal me.

If you kill me, you will send me to glory – my ultimate goal.

With that, they are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Bibliography

Bramsen, N. (2017). What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Dubuque, IA: Emmaus International.

 

Barabbas

As we approach Easter, we often forget one of the secondary characters that actually played a bigger role than we thought.

This boy grew up on the street. He didn’t know his father and certainly did not have a father living at home. He didn’t know where his mother was, and people generally called him ‘boy’ or ‘kid’. To survive on the streets meant petty thievery, and so he stole food, clothing, and anything else he felt he needed to survive.

As he got older, he found others that were like-minded. They formed a loose-knit gang and kept escalating their exploits. The gang of petty thieves started turning into something worse. Soldiers started looking for them as they were becoming well-known. The ‘boy’ became involved in physical altercations with soldiers and soon ended up killing one. A price was put on his head. He tried to mask his lawlessness by attacking the Romans to ‘free my people’ as he put it.

One day ‘boy’ and several others of his gang were captured and imprisoned in Pilate’s palace. He knew that one day soon he would be sentenced and executed. It was only a matter of time. Day after day dragged on with nothing to differentiate each successive day.

One day he heard the murmur of the crowd. The crowd sounded angry and he could tell more people were gathering. He could tell that someone was stirring the crowd up. There would be a pause and then the crowd would say something that he  could just not make out. This kept on for a bit until the crowd quietened down. The quiet lasted for a few minutes until he heard the crowd cry out his name, ‘Barabbas’! Then there was silence…until he heard the crowd cry, ‘crucify him’! This was it. His time was over. The long-anticipated judgment was now going to be executed. He was going to be executed.

Minutes later he heard the pad of footsteps coming down the hallway…getting closer and closer. Then they stopped…right outside his door. He heard the rattling of keys. Then the sound of one being inserted into the lock. The grinding of the lock until it opened. Then the door swinging slowly open. The jailer, with the guard patrol, walked in, faced Barabbas, and told him that he was free to go. Someone else had taken his place. He didn’t know whether he should walk or run or what. Maybe they just told him that so that they could spear him in the back. But why go through that if they could just execute him officially anyway?

He hesitantly made his way out of the citadel and then wondered where he should go. He decided to follow the crowd and see the person who had taken his place. However, he did not want to get too close to the soldiers, lest one of them strike out at him. He waited until the crowd had moved forward and then joined the back fringe.

He saw the first cross raised. It was one of his associates, a gang member. He saw the second cross being raised. Another associate gang member. Finally, the middle cross was raised. ‘So, that was the person who took my place,’ Barabbas thought. It was nobody he knew. He finally plucked up the courage to ask a soldier who that was hanging on the third cross.

‘That’s Barabbas,’ was the answer.

‘How can that be?’ Barabbas asked, ‘seeing that is my name?’

‘This is your substitute; He has taken your place on the cross,’ the soldier told him….

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I don’t know how Barabbas would have responded. We know he was a rebel, a thief, and a murderer. We know he was set free at the crowd’s behest. We also know that his name means ‘son of a father’ (Bar – son of; abbas – father). What you may not know, is that one of the titles of the Lord Jesus is ‘the Son of the Father’ (2 John 3). We are all Barabbas (or Batabbas) in that sense. We are all children of our father. We all deserved to hang on that cross for our sins. And yet the greater Barabbas, the Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, was our substitute and took our place on the cross. This event supports and demonstrates the doctrine of substitution as found in the Old Testament.

As we move into Easter, let us remember the ultimate Barabbas, the Son of His Father, and how He took our place on the cross.