You’ve heard about it… or maybe watched the trial on TV… an obviously guilty man goes free, and an innocent man is condemned instead. Never was this more true than the injustice that occurred when Barabbas was chosen over Jesus.
All we really know about Barabbas is that he was a notorious bad-guy who had been imprisoned for insurrection and murder some time before Jesus’ arrest (Matt. 27:16; Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; John 18:40). We don’t know anything about his insurrection, nor do we now what happened after his release. But we do know he was a bad man… guilty of the crimes he’d been accused of.
The only other thing we know about Barabbas is that this guilty man, for no reason other than the will of God carried out by Pontius Pilate, was released and set free, and Jesus, an innocent man, was condemned and executed instead. It all happened as part of Pilate’s usual custom of releasing a prisoner chosen by the crowd during Passover (Matt. 27:15; Mark 15:6; John 18:39). This time, the religious leaders stirred up the crowd to choose Barabbas over Jesus.
It is right to be angry over the injustice committed against Jesus, an innocent Man. Yet, if we reflect on our own salvation, each of us have stood where Barabbas stood. We, being undeniably guilty in our sin, have been released from our own death sentence for no other reason than God’s gracious will. And Jesus was condemned and executed in our place.
From now on, when you hear the name Barabbas, praise God for the immeasurable grace He has shown every believer. And thank God that you – though undeserving – have been set free to serve Him.
You can read the story of Barabbas in Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:18-25; and John 18:39,40.