Well, there certainly has been a dust-up over the release of the American held captive by the Taliban in exchange for 5 Taliban warriors. I am quite sure there is a whole lot more to the story than we will ever know. And whatever your political persuasion – whether Republican or Democrat – the exchange did seem not balanced: 1 for 5. Smarter minds than mine will be debating this for years to come.
It has reminded me of another prisoner exchange. Many years ago there was a hardened criminal – an insurgent – who had been tried and found guilty of crimes against the state. Irreversible judgment had been handed down. He was scheduled for execution – an execution he deserved. All appeals had been denied. No leniency. He was guilty. He was waiting for his final day.
The political climate was in turmoil. There were insurgents everywhere trying to overthrow the much hated and corrupt government – which made the government crack down even harder. Suspicion was rife. No one trusted anyone else. Into this milieu came a man – an old-fashioned prophet who railed against the corruption and immorality – even in the palace. He didn’t have it in him to compromise. The king and his “girlfriend” were not happy that their lifestyle choice was being opening condemned. The king allowed himself to be manipulated into having this man beheaded.
So outrageous and unfair. But such was the political and moral climate. People didn’t want to hear the truth – they wanted to live the way they wanted to live with no boundaries. Live and let live. God did not enter the equation. Oh, there were a few god-fearing folks who were looking for hope but they were on the fringe of society.
There was one teacher that was drawing big crowds. He talked about the Kingdom of God. He talked of love and forgiveness. He talked about peacemakers and meekness. He talked of mercy and said God was like a father. The people had not heard this before – all they heard was law, law, law. They loved what this teacher was saying and how He was saying it – not with judgment and harshness – the crowds grew larger. The political leaders became uneasy. Was He a threat to them?
They tried to trap him any way they could. They put their brightest and best up against him to no avail. He was as wily as they were. He was making them look bad – they became furious – murderously furious. Finally they found one in his inner circle that would betray him for money. It was arranged and the deed was done. He was captured!
But when the governor questioned him the found no reason to execute him. The crowd was seeded with those that wanted the teacher out of the way. They incited the crowd to chant, “Execute him. Execute him.”! The weak governor was no match for them; he caved. In that day it was a custom to exchange one prisoner…for the condemned. The governor, wanting to appease the crowd exchanged the guilty, violent insurgent for the peace-preaching teacher. An unbalanced exchange.
The exchange of Jesus for Barrabbas was also unbalanced: the Son of God for sinful man. Barrabbas benefited from the exchange for the rest of his days. I wonder how it affected him… Did it impact his life? Did he change his ways? We don’t know. But his days did come to an end.
We can benefit from the exchange of Jesus for sinful man for all of eternity. The choice is ours.