“Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.” (Mark 15:6–11)
If you had to choose one person from Scriptures that you could identify the most with, who would it be? Would you say that you are like king David, being a man after God’s heart? Would you identify with Paul, the once “chief of all sinners” but now redeemed by the blood of Jesus? How many would say that they identify best with Barabbas? If I had to guess, I would say that not many would choose Barabbas, but if we examine what Scriptures say about this man we may realize we are more like him than we think.
Not much is said about Barabbas in Scripture; there is no listing of his family genealogy, as there are of others, there is nothing said about his life prior the crimes he commits, and there is definitely not anything written about any good things he may have done. The only thing we know about the man that is standing before Pilate, Jesus, and the angry mob is that he is a murderer and a rioter. As we read the Gospel accounts and the trial of Jesus before Pilate we read that Pilate could find no fault in Jesus, Herod found no fault in Jesus, and now Pilate tries one last time to have Jesus released by placing a man that had many faults before the angry mob, and it was Barabbas that would be chosen over Jesus.
Barabbas was a man that deserved the punishment that he was facing. He had broken several laws, he had part in insurrection or riot, he had murdered, he had been captured, arrested, and placed into Roman prison. When we look at the Christ on trial before Pilate and the Jewish council we see a crowd of people that do not deserve who is standing before them, some do not appreciate who is standing before them, and one that will no longer face punishment because of who is standing before him. We can identify with Barabbas in this point in his life. As we examine our lives we can clearly say that we do not deserve the sacrifice of Jesus, maybe at times we do not or did not appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus, but now, because of Jesus, we no longer have to face the punishment due because of the sacrifice of Jesus (Rom. 6:23).
A notable prisoner was released, and an innocent Christ was condemned to die. One deserved to die but was freed while the other was sinless and perfect but died so we may be freed from the guilt and punishment of sin. An angry mob desired to have a murderer released and the Son of God to be crucified, but every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ (Phil. 2:10-11).
We, like Barabbas, were guilty but Jesus took our place that we may live eternally. If we obey His will, we can be pardoned from sin (Mark 16:16).