Yes, an interesting question: for whom was the central cross of Calvary made?
As you mull over you answer, let us read Romans 7:24-25 where Paul reveals that Jesus set us free saying:
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Paul in Romans 6:6 tells us how Jesus set us free saying:
“Our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.”
And how was it that in being crucified, that Jesus was able to set us free? Galatians 3:13-14 explain this:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone having been hanged on a tree”); so that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Jesus Christ, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The doctrine which derives from these three scriptures is this. Jesus set us free by being crucified on a tree, for in that, He became a curse. Through this, our “old man” was also crucified with Christ, and by that, we are free.
Who is our “old man”? The old man, or the old self, is the inner person we were, before we came to Christ and before the Holy Spirit came to dwell within us. Before, as Second Corinthians 6:16 says, we became temples of the Living God and God came and dwelt within us. Regarding the old man, Ephesians 4:22-24 says that we “ought to put off the old man (according to your way of living before) who is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And you should put on the new man, who according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness.”
It is quite clear from these verses that all born-again Christians are therefore required to put-off the old man, the old self and put-on the new.
So let us now go back to the original question: for whom was the central cross of Calvary made?
The answer is Barabbas. And who was Barabbas? Matthew 27:16 calls him, a “notorious prisoner” and Mark 15:7 describes him as one “bound with the insurgents, who had committed murder in the insurrection” who (v23:19) “was thrown into prison because of a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder.” By all accounts, Barabbas was not a good man; he was a murderer, an insurgent, and a rebel, who committed sedition against the government. He, Barabbas, was the one for whom the centre cross had been prepared.
Was Barabbas any different to us, to you or I? For an unbiased answer let’s look at Ephesians 4:22-24 and see how God sees us in our ‘old-man’ condition. Three words come out clearly: Corrupt, Deceitful and Lustful. This is what comprises our “old man”; this is what comprised those who are not born-again.
Again, let us get back to the fist point. Jesus died on a cross intended for Barabbas; Jesus took the place of Barabbas. But Romans 6:6 says that our old-man was crucified on the cross with Jesus. How can that be? What does that make us? That makes us Barabbas. It is not that we are like Barabbas, we are Barabbas; we are criminals, we are corrupt, deceitful and lustful and deserving of crucifixion for our sin in our own right, just as Barabbas was.
This is the message of the Gospel, the Good News, that at the last moment, God exchanged Barabbas, exchanged us, for His Son Jesus, who died on the cross that our sins may be forgiven, as He became a curse. At the last moment, our old-selves were crucified with Jesus. This is the mercy of the glorious Living God.
Amen and Amen and Amen.