“A friend of sinners” that was one of the favorite barbs the enemies of Jesus would throw at him. But you know what, Jesus liked that title. That’s why He came into this world – for sinners. He came for those who were hurting, wounded or lost in sin. He came to heal, to help and to find them. And it was no different at this hour of torture.
So He is traded for a murderer. For Barabbas, yes, but not only Barabbas - but also for you and me. Barabbas represents us for we all have murdered in our hearts with thoughts and attitudes that were less than loving. For Jesus has come to trade places with you. To take your sin, your cross, your punishment, your death, and set you free, and give you His forgiveness, His throne, and His life.
The criminal deserved his punishment. His list of crimes was long. Yet Jesus reached out with the promise of Paradise. The gates were opened because of Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death.
And all repentant sinners, including us, are welcomed there.