I Am Barabbas!

Matthew 27:15-18 – The Message

It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd.  At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison.

With the crowd before him, Pilate said, “Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?”  He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.

Imagine the Scene. Barabbas is in a holding cell. Suddenly he hears the crowd begin to chant his name

—“Barabbas! Barabbas!” He does not know why they are chanting his name.

All that he knows is that they are. He does not know that the crowd is chanting his name because they are choosing him, a hardened and condemned murderer, to be set free.

This must have occurred very strangely to him at the time. Then the crowd goes silent. Pilate begins to ask the public what he should do with Jesus. The crowd gets worked up again and shouts, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Could you imagine what must have been going through Barabbas’ mind? All he hears is, “Barabbas! Barabbas! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” It is not that he does not know that today his number is up, but it is an odd thing for a crowd to gather around to call for and cheer on his execution. Suddenly he hears footsteps approaching, and he knows that the time has come. The guards finally came to get him so he could be delivered to his executioner.

Something strange happens, however. The first thief is taken out in shackles and chains.

The second thief is taken out in shackles and chains. When it comes to his turn, instead of being led out in his shackles and chains, his shackles and chains are released, and he is informed that he is free.

I Am Barabbas!

A man who was guilty and condemned was set free because an innocent and perfect man was willing to take his place.

Somebody would die that day, and Barabbas deserved it, and Jesus did not.

Barabbas could not have stopped the proceedings, and Jesus could have.

At any point and time, Jesus could have called down legions of angels to His defence. At any point and time, Jesus could have simply spoken a word and His enemies would have ceased to exist. At any point and time, Jesus could have stopped it all…but He didn’t.

Jesus allowed the events to transpire just as they did because His mission in coming was to die.

Two people were in front of Pilate, and he had to release one of them.

The one was a sinner against God and man, a criminal stained with many evils.

The other was the holy, harmless, and undefiled Son of God, in whom there was no fault at all. And yet Pilate condemns the innocent prisoner and acquits the guilty!

He orders Barabbas to be set free and delivers Jesus to be crucified. This is an illustration of that wonderful exchange which takes place between Christ and the sinner when a sinner is justified in God’s sight.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ, the innocent, has been reckoned guilty before God so that we, the guilty, might be considered innocent and be set free from condemnation.

If you have been saved by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, then Barabbas is more than the name of a man way back then.

You are Barabbas. I am Barabbas. We are all those who bear the name Barabbas because we were guilty, and we were condemned. We were hopeless, and we were helpless. 

We all bear the name Barabbas because Jesus died in our place. Jesus took our guild. Jesus took our shame. Jesus was condemned for us so we could be forgiven, set free and given new life.

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