Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I, Barabbas

I so enjoy teaching Sunday School. Even more so, I enjoy teaching
pre-teen and teenagers about the wonder and love of Jesus Christ. To see a young person put together the facts that point to their need to be totally reliant on Christ and his crucifixion. I have found it both a gift and privilege to introduce the gospel message in an in depth and studious way to the mentioned age group where I attend church. For a year now, every Wednesday night these children have been asked what does the word gospel mean and what is the gospel message. At the same time, we have been studying the book of Mark, which if you want to study the gospel with kids I would always suggest the fast-paced book of Mark. It is both quick moving and action packed, moving from event to event in a seamless and fast way. I feel fully confident in saying that not only I have grown from this study, but these beautiful and God-fearing young children have come to a deeper and more appreciative idea of Christ Jesus. Their understanding of Him has grown from a childish to an adult and evidence based understanding.

There have been several moments during this study in which the understanding of Christ's love was evident upon these children's faces. This look is normally one of overbearing understanding and glee. Imagine a smile with head nodding mixed with a look of deep thought. This is the look that thrills my soul to see and I believe is the look of the gospel of Christ doing it's promised work. No sparkle, no gimmick, simply the inspired words of the gospel authors.

One such moment happened just last week. Our study has brought us to the 15th chapter of Mark's gospel and Christ's time spent with the Roman governor Pilate. The story brings us to the time in which Pilate, realizing that Christ is unlike any man he has ever encountered, gives the crowd a choice. Choice one, release this man Christ whose charges are based solely on hearsay that he blasphemed and wants to destroy the Jewish temple. Choice two, release one Barabbas, a criminal accused of the charge of murder, taking the life of another person. Of course, the kids in our class know how the story works out. They are aware of the cries of "crucify Him, crucify Him." They are aware of the injustice of how Barabbas, a lowly murderer, is released so that an innocent man could die.

Yet, when asked who in the room was like Barabbas, only myself and a deacon who attends our class raised our hands. When asked what makes them different than Barabbas, the responses were that he killed someone and they have not or would not ever commit such a crime, such a sin. Only when it was shown to them that just as Barabbas was release so Christ could be crucified, they have been released through their belief in Christ for their sins as well. Just as Christ gladly accepted the cross of crucifixion so Barabbas could live, so has He for them as well. I was shocked to see their faces of shock when reminded that because of their sins past, present, and future that they deserve hell. That because Christ and His Father are aware of our ineptitude to live sinless, Christ set us free rather than face death and eternal torment.

To see these children connect their own sins and lives to Barabbas and to see first hand in an example of what Christ did for them was exhilarating. To see their wheels turning and the connection of the gospel to their hearts and minds was beautiful. Thank God for His Holy Word, for His Son Jesus Christ, and for His Gospel. Good news = that despite our sins, Christ has set us free while our sins scream out "crucify him, crucify him."

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