Barabbas is not a man. Barabbas is a choice.
For those of you who are not familiar with Barabbas, he was a rebel who took part in an uprising against Rome during the time of Christ. Barabbas is mentioned in all four gospels, and he is differently described in each of them. In Matthew, he is a prisoner of the Roman empire who was essentially on Death Row for treason and rebellion against the state. In Mark, Barabbas was a murderer who was part of an insurrection, (hence prison). In Luke, he is a man who for murder and sedition was cast into prison. In John he is simply given the title, “robber”.
Apparently, Barabbas is important enough to be mentioned, by name in all of the four gospels. But, Barabbas is not important, as a man. Any prisoner, thief, villain, robber, murderer, could’ve played the part of Barabbas, but, this man was important.
Barabbas is the prisoner whom the Jews chose over Jesus when Pilot offered to release one or the other to them. It’s important to realize that Barabbas wasn’t just a criminal, he was the worst of the worst. He would’ve gone to a cross that day to pay for his crimes, hanging between two of his fellow criminals. But, Jesus Christ chose to exemplify salvation through the grace showed to Barabbas.
An evangelist once described Barabbas’s situation after being set free, when asked about the men hanging on the crosses at Golgotha. He said that if somebody had asked Barabbas about the man on the right, he might say, “I know him, he taught me to cheat, lie, and rape.” When asked about the man on the left, he might say, “I know him, he was with me every step of the way through every crime I ever committed. But, when asked about the one in the middle, he would say that he didn’t know him and ask what he had done to earn death. A guard might reply, “Nothing. They could find no fault in him.” Barabbas might then ask, “Why is he up there then?”. And the guard would say, “He took your place.”
Wow. Barabbas didn’t deserve to be sparred a death like that, but he was. Barabbas represents every evil we could commit, and when given the choice as the Jews were given of who they wanted, who would we choose? Barabbas is what we need to be saved from and who we are, Jesus Christ is Savior: He took our place.
Barabbas isn’t a person, anyone could’ve been Barabbas. Barabbas is a choice. Who will you choose?
As always, thanks for reading.
—the anonymous novelist