What Christ did for each of us changes everything. 

In today’s passage I see three people who I am because of Jesus Christ. I am going to testify to this scripture, I hope you can and will too!

I Am Barabbas, I Am Simon, & I Am The Second Criminal!

In Luke’s Gospel we see God’s sovereign plan to bring full and permanent redemption to the human race. In the midst of Christ laying down His life He interacts with three men. All of these men are examples of how we are to be with Christ.

Last Week:

23:11&12: Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)

Luke 23:13-43

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 

  • It can be assumed that when they brought Jesus back he and Pilate talked
  • When Pilate was done talking to Jesus he told the Chief Priests

16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” 17 Every year at the Passover Feast, Pilate had to release one prisoner to the people. 18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 

  • Pilate says: I will do my passover ceremony release thing and call it a day
  • The crowd, led by the Sanhedrin will not take NO for an answer
  • The ‘whole crowd’ was willing to put a killer back on the street, why?
  • The work of sin, in the chief priests and the sinful crowd (any crowd)
  • Sin in the leaders and the crowd condemn The Christ to die (God’s Plan)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 

  • It has kind of blown up on Pilate, he had no idea this was going to cause unrest
  • The city was packed to the gills full of Israelites who came for Passover
  • Pilate’s #1 job as a Roman Governor: KEEP THE PEACE!
  • Three times pilate has tried to release Jesus

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. 

  • Pilate’s 3rd & final attempt to release Jesus is met with: ”Crucify Him’!
  • The crowd had been won over by the Jewish religious leaders
  • The threat of a riot was real so Pilate pronounced judgement
  • Barabbas was to be put to death for Rebellion.
  • Jesus was put to death in place of Barabbas, though totally innocent
  • Barabbas was set free even though he was clearly guilty
  • I AM BARABBAS! If Jesus Christ died in your place then so are you!
  • God laid out a perfect illustration of what salvation would look like
  • He would die in the place of those who were guilty of sin and deserved it.
  • Barabbas was the 1st of many Jesus The Christ would die in place of.
  • Christ doesn’t’ die to save You from earthy death… 
  • Christ dies to save you from eternal death!
  • I wonder what became of Barabbas…

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 

  • There is this guy, on his way in from the country… minding his own business…
  • Jesus must have been unable to carry it, the soldiers need to get to the ‘Skull’
  • Very harsh & super random being called to serve like this (life changing)
  • He is mentioned by name most likely because the readers of this know of him
  • His son’s are mentioned in Mark’s Gospel (Mark usually has less detail)
  • God uses Simeon to paint the picture of discipleship as Jesus had described it
  • Luke 9:23, where Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”

John Piper says: “Carrying the cross behind Jesus is a beautiful and painful picture of our calling as disciples… The call to suffer for Jesus is often sudden and costly and seemingly random.”

27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

  • The walk is an event, and it was recorded, it was know, it is historical fact! 
  • Via Dolorosa: The Way of the Cross
  • Jesus addresses the crowd of Jews as ‘Daughters of Jerusalem’
  • It will be so bad for Israel that people will be better if they didn’t have kids
  • Children were such a blessing; it had to be brutal conditions to not want them

30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ (Hosea 10:8b) 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

  • Asking the mountains & hills to cover you means, what is coming is worse than being buried by an avalanche! Doom is coming! The Wrath of God!
  • The nation of Israel has lived in God’s favor & under His Judgement: 2nd Exile
  • Another translation renders this: If these things are done to me, the living tree, what will happen to you, the dry tree?
  • Without belief in the Messiah the nation of Israel becomes a dry tree

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

  • These guys were slated to die today with Barabbas…
  • The skull was just outside the ‘Old City’, I stayed close to it (Damascus Gate)
  • Jesus was the focal point, and when all three were up there The Christ Says:
  • The roman soldiers who were doing the deed had no idea

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 

  • Very unusual for someone to get to Crucification with anything of worth on them
  • The soldiers commit this thievery because the crowd was so against Jesus
  • The chief priests took the chance of becoming ‘ceremonially unclean’ to mock!
  • The religious leaders mock Jesus just like occupying soldiers do!
  • The sign really disproves those who say Jesus never declared Himself God
  • God put that sign there. He is my king…I am a Jew (Spiritual Israel)

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

  • This guy who is dying on a cross gets in on the mockery!! (Sin loves company)
  • The other criminal is like: ‘Really?” While you are dying you are gonna mock?
  • He reminds his partner in crime that they got caught ‘red handed’ 
  • He gets revelation of who Jesus actually is! The Christ.
  • He speaks God’s words (scripture) “This One is blameless”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  • Remember my knowing you as God…remember me knowing you are King!
  • Jesus Christ gives the promise to all who make Him Lord: Eternal Life!


The Sanhedrin getting the crowd to insist on having Jesus killed was no accident, it was God allowed, it was God’s will and it was God’s justice.

God orchestrated Pilate releasing Barnabas to demonstrate how One who was truly blameless took the place of another who deserved to die. I am Barabbas!

Awhile following Jesus Christ, you may have your life unexpectedly invaded as God sees fit. If you surrender to it, your obedience will change your lifestyle. I am Simon!

The fate of the nation of Israel is proclaimed by Christ and it has truly come to pass.

Religious rulers, soldiers and even a criminal mocked Jesus. If you don’t mock Christ, yet never convert like the 2ndcriminal, you still have the same eternity as the mockers. I am the 2nd criminal!

As Christ followers we are directed by scripture to live out the identity of Barabbas, Simon and the 2nd Criminal. That is the identity of a Disciple of Jesus The Christ!


Do you believe in a fully sovereign or partially sovereign God? What is He not fully in charge of?

If you were facing death and someone else took your place how would you react?

How have you carried Christ’s Cross and how has it transformed you?

Have you fully believed on Christ’s divinity, sovereignty and ability to grant eternal life like the 2nd criminal did?