Oh, how often we trade Jesus for other things! We give up His promises and His goodness for things that seem better in our worldly eyes. 

On this topic of exchange, there were 2 such instances mentioned in Mark 15, which documents Jesus Christ’s journey to the Cross. 

First, the exchange of Jesus for Barabbas.

Having rejected Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, the Jewish religious leaders had handed him over to Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Judea at that time. They hoped that the accusations against Jesus of blasphemy and treason would lead to his death. 

However, there was a custom to release one prisoner during the festival at that time and Pilate asked if the crowd wanted him to release Jesus, whom he viewed as innocent.

Instead, the crowd requested for Barabbas, a man who had committed murder in the uprising against Rome.

“And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”  And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”  And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” (Mark 15:12-15 ESV)

Now it seems so ridiculous that the crowd should choose a murderer over Jesus, a man who had been healing and delivering their friends and family.

But I can think of a couple of instances in my life when I had given Jesus up. Like the crowds, I had seen and received so much of Jesus. But when faced with the choice, I chose to give Jesus up instead.

The second exchange in Mark 15 occurred during the death of Jesus.

In those final moments, there was darkness over the whole land before Jesus took His last breath. When He finally did, this was what Mark recorded:

“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 ESV)

Wow. Imagine being in darkness for 3 hours, and standing and watching this man breathe with difficulty: His life slowly draining from the wounds, his chest heaving, each time having to push himself up against the nails in his hands and feet, with his back scraping on the wood, further tearing open his wounds. After an agonising 3 hours, he suffocates to death because he no longer has the strength to breathe. And what did he die for?

For the curtain to tear in half – that tall, heavy, immense, thick curtain that hid God’s presence from the people.

For us – those who have in the next 2,000 years heard the Gospel and received it – to be able to stand in God’s presence and to be able to call him “Abba, Father” instead of running away in fear because of his incredible holiness (Romans 8:15).

For the divine exchange for our lives. That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

While we trade Him for the things of this world, Jesus died so that we can come back to that moment where we choose Him instead.

What are some areas in your life that you might have traded Jesus for other things?

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8 ESV)

Have you received that divine exchange fully? 

In that divine exchange, He called me his own. I am His and He is mine. I am precious in God’s eyes and honoured, and He loves me. It’s one of those moments where words fail, and all I can say in response is “thank you, Father”. 

This article was adapted from a post on Delphne’s blog and is republished with permission.