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Bible Study: Jesus pardons the guilty

NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.

Bible Passage: Mark 15:6-47

Discussion Questions:

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Food for Thought:

Read Mark 15:6-15. Before the cross was a spiritual symbol for the way of Jesus, it was a political one for the power of Rome, a symbol to flex their might and say, “Cross us and we will cross you.”

To illustrate the point, Barabbas, a convicted murderer and insurrectionist, was on death row, scheduled to be executed by crucifixion the next day. But when given a choice between crucifying guilty Barabbas or innocent Jesus, the crowd requested a pardon for Barabbas. Jesus was to die in Barabbas’ place. Pilate reluctantly released Barabbas and delivered the Messiah to be crucified.

Imagine how unbelievable the news must have been for the murderous convict when he found out his scheduled execution was canceled, that a man named Jesus would be crucified in his place, and that he was now free to go.

For those of us who know Christ as Lord, the news of deliverance means so much more than escaping death; it means having a new life in Christ and an eternity of enjoying our Lord together. We might be tempted to think we would never be guilty of preferring Barabbas to Christ, but in some sense, that is what we do when we choose sin over Christ. Instead, let us never stop remembering all that Jesus suffered on our behalf so we can endure and never give up running the race of faith.

In the criminal Barabbas we see an illustration of our own selves. While Barabbas was guilty of treason against the Roman Empire, we are guilty of cosmic treason against our Maker. Yet just as Barabbas was pardoned from his penalty and Jesus took his place, we who are in Christ by faith are pardoned from sin’s penalty because Jesus took our place. In God’s good and sovereign plan to save sinners like you and me, Jesus substituted His position as the innocent One for the position and penalty of a guilty one.

The Gospel Project

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The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/gospelproject [3].

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool [4] or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores [4].