It was 1960 when Francis Gary Powers, a U.S. pilot, was shot down while flying a spy mission over the USSR. A few years earlier, the FBI had captured William August Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, and convicted him of espionage. The US sentenced Abel to 30 years of imprisonment. The Soviets similarly convicted Powers of espionage and sentenced him to 10 years. The incident further cooled already chilly U.S. and Soviet relations during the cold war.

Negotiations were made by a New York attorney, James Donovan between the U.S., the Soviet Union, and East Germany and a prisoner swap was arranged. On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged for Abel at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin. Both men were guilty of espionage. Theirs was a fair exchange.

Almost 2,000 years earlier, however, an unfair exchange took place: Jesus for Barabbas. Barabbas was guilty, yet he went free; Jesus, though innocent, went to his death. Even more shocking than the death of Jesus was the fact that he was taking our penalty upon himself. We call it unfair—and it was. But Jesus experienced death voluntarily so we wouldn’t have to. There’s a special word for that; it is grace.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

We love him, because he first loved us. (I John 4:19, KJV)

Dr. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2014. Prior to that he served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Grove, for many years.