How Does Barabbas Apply to Us?
What do we know about Barabbas?
There are lots of avenues we could take to explore his life. In this episode we focus on two.
1) The choice in the Garden. Is the same choice in the courtyard.
2) As offensive as it feels, our life mirrors Barabbas
Join in as we explore the last week of Jesus’ life in an effort to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday.
What does Easter usually look like for you? How do you celebrate? What sort of traditions do you have?
In this study we’re talking through details of the last week of Jesus’ life.
Last week we spoke of his triumphal entry to Jerusalem – this week we talk about how he was led in triumph to Pilot.
John 21:25, "Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written."
When he was in Jerusalem many believed in his name because they saw the signs. They called him the King of the Jews. Their Messiah, their Savior. Here we step into the place where they are calling for His blood.
During this study we’re going to focus on Barabbas.
Who is Barabbas?
Barabbas means son of a father. When you look at that closer and break it down we see Bar Abba. We know Abba is a term of endearment. It’s similar to saying ‘Daddy’, but even the word Daddy can water down the depth of it’s meaning. It draws an image in my mind of an obedient and trusting child holding onto every word of their good father. Which in turn draws my mind to us being one of God’s children. He is our Abba Father. He is our rescuer, the one who steps in help us whether we’re right or wrong. He’s got our back, and He’s always there.
Going back to Genesis
Everything points back to Genesis, we are reminded that we were created to have relationship with Him. We were made to worship Him, to walk with Him during the cool of the day. To be in communion with Him.
In the garden we find we were given free will, and with it a decision to make. The choice we see is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. There we know the choice that Adam and Eve made. Their decision to reject God. And here we see it again, and it has been happening ever since because boiling this all down, we are all guilty of this same great sin – and the wages of sin is death.
Which we find Barabbas is facing.
There was no other option in His mind.
Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
Barabbas vs. Jesus is really son of a father saved by the Son of the Father.
Barabbas is mentioned in all four gospels of the New Testament:
Matthew 27:15–26 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Mark 15:6–15 6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
Luke 23:18–24 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) 18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.
John 18:38-40 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
What details stand out to you?
Matthew and Mark were quite similar.
He was delivered to the court because of the Pharisees envy.
Pilot’s wife tells him to have nothing to do with this man. She’s had dreams – there are these subtile things that happen to tell us – stay away.
The Chief Priests were working the crowd. Prepping the people to choose Barrabas.
All four call out the Jewish custom that a prisoner is released to them during the Passover.
Pilot tells the crowd three different times that he finds no fault in Jesus.
Barabbas was a political terrorist. He committed murder in the name of the Jewish cause.
Worldly justice is easily manipulated to injustice. We see this now.
Pilate was the governor, the worldly leader, but ultimately it was the mob of people who judged Jesus.
The worldly government caved to the demands of the people.
The crowd called for Jesus’ blood out of hatred, but He poured it out on them in love.
Scripture doesn’t tell us anything further about Barabbas’ life – What do you think was going through Barabbas’ mind as all of this was unfolding?
What do you see here that parallels our own relationship with Jesus? Do you see yourself in Barabbas?
There are lots of avenues we can move down when we look at Barabbas but I want to focus on two.
1) The choice in the Garden. Is the same choice in the courtyard.
When we look to this message we see the trees in the Garden re-emerge. This time their standing in front of us as Jesus, the Tree of Life and Barabbas, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Jesus holds the promise of Hope and Future. Relationship with God. Communion with God. The door to Life.
Barabbas, the quick fix. The here and now. What the people expected. What we see play out. He is the door to the temporal.
Eve was persuaded by the serpent in the garden.
The people were persuaded by the chief priests. in the courtyard. The religious leaders had worked that crowd persuading them to choose Barabbas over Jesus.
Think about that.
Eve gave ear to the serpent. She allowed a question to simmer in her mind.
The people gave ear to the priests. They allowed a question to simmer in their mind.
Eve followed the serpent. The people followed the priests.
They had been taught/conditioned to do what the priests told them (Duet 17:8) but their leaders were blind. They had forgotten any sort of order any type of decency.
Barabbas was what the people expected Jesus to be.
They wanted Rome overthrown not their sin over thrown.
The Jews are offered a choice. They chose to set Barabbas free, the very type of criminal who posed a genuine threat to their peace and security. Barabbas had been convicted, and found guilty of the same crime Jesus had been accused of that Pilate had found him innocent of. Jesus had been acquitted of it. But the crowd was out of control demanding an overrule of the governor’s finding. Pilate cave’s releases the criminal and condemns the innocent. We often do the same by placing priority over the here and now rather than what Jesus desires to do. When we do this, we place idols ahead of him.
Barabbas provided a temporary solution. We hear a brief mention of him in Acts and that’s it. Jewish tradition will tell us he died in another insurrection against Rome. If that’s true, it paints a picture of our same our efforts when we don’t choose Jesus.
Often we find ourselves in front of our own Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
2) Barabbas’ story parallels our own. As offensive as it feels we are Barabbas.
What do we know about Barabbas?
His life intersects that of Christ at the trial of Jesus. He committed murder in the insurrection. An insurrection is a rising against civil or political authority. He was a notable prisoner. Scripture says, “who for a certain sedition (which means a speech designed to incite people to rebel) made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.” He was a robber.
Barabbas had already been convicted, and was about to be executed.
We are the ones convicted of the crime, but Jesus is the one crucified in our place. Scripture tells us all have fallen short. Not one of us is righteous, not even one.
Barabbas deserved the judgement already given to him, but Jesus accepted the judgement.
Barabbas was the murderer and Jesus was the murdered.
Barabbas shows us an example of what Jesus substitutionary atonement for sin looks like.
There are many parallels between the Day of Atonement and the sacrifice of Jesus.
We find that by reading Leviticus 16:8-34. The parallel I want to focus on now are the two goats offered during Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur was the only day the only one time in the year that the High Priest could step into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. On that day he would make atonement for the peoples sins. Before entering though lots would be cast between two goats. One goat would be set free to roam the wilderness. This was symbolic of the sins leaving. This goat was known as the scapegoat.
The other goat was known as the Lord’s goat. This one was then sacrificed and it’s blood used for the atonement of Israel. As the two goats stood before the high priest we see how it paints the picture of Jesus and Barabbas standing before Pilate. One goes free the other is sent to death. What we see in Barabbas is God’s desire to release even the chief of sinners.
We see here how the upright became ransom for the transgressor, the just for the unjust. Jesus was delivered to the cross so that we might be delivered. Barabbas was a sinner in need of a Savior.
As we continue to dial in to what Easter is really all about, let’s remember over the coming days of these parallel that exist. Our choice between this world and our Father, and also those that exist between Barabbas and ourselves. Just the same our Savior willingly went to Calvary in our place.
Let that thought draw us into a beautiful state of repentance. Let it remind us of the goodness of our Father, and His passionate pursuit for our heart. His true desire that none should perish.