You know the story… Barabbas was a criminal imprisoned at the time of Jesus’ trial. Gospel accounts portray Barabbas as a sinful man.
- … they had a notorious prisoner, called [Jesus] Barabbas. Mt 27.16
- This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder. Lk 23.19
- Now Barabbas was a bandit. Jn 18.40
Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, wanted to pardon and release Jesus, but he consented to the will of the crowd and released Barabbas instead.
So sinful Barabbas goes free while sinless Jesus gets tortured and executed.
Did you also know…
Barabbas is only mentioned in the four Gospels during the trial of Jesus. His name is not used anywhere else in Scripture. Typically, when Scripture introduces a person, it gives relative identifying information. Brother of James, son of David, Saul of Tarsus, etc. There is no identifying clause used with Barabbas, so we do not know anything about his genealogy or place of origin.
In ancient culture, your name was extremely significant. The meaning of your name also defined you as a person. For instance, Jacob means the deceiver, and he acted as such (Gen 27).
Barabbas = Bar (son of) + Abba (the father). Even Barabbas’ name is void of any valuable description. Of course he is the son of his father. It is intrinsically impossible for anyone to be the son of someone else’s father.
So the punishment of Barabbas the son of the father was placed on Jesus the Son of the Father.
So who is Barabbas?…
Barabbas is essentially a faceless character in the story.
He is no one.
Or he is everyone…
Jesus took the punishment so that each of us could be set free.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5.8
Jesus took our place in order to reconcile us to God.
Paul explained the position we inherit in Christ, “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Rom 8.15b-16.
Therefore, since Jesus died for us, we are now children of God. Bar-Abba(s).
We are Barabbas. Sinners that deserved punishment but instead are now free sons (and daughters) of the Father.
Thank You, Jesus. Praise You, Lord.