We are Barabbas

by Michele McCarthy

But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” Luke 23:18 NASB

Have you noticed there are no insignificant words in the Bible? Events, places, names, and instructions may at times seem simple, but upon a closer look, word plays and word meanings weave layers and layers of God’s truth into every single term.

As Resurrection Sunday approaches, let’s look to Jesus’ day before Passover. It was tradition that Pilate release a prisoner to the Jews on that day. After Jesus was sent back and forth from Pontius Pilot to Herod and back again, Pilot came outside to discuss the fate of Jesus and another prisoner with the crowd. All was not quiet on the home front. Upheaval and unrest stirred in the streets.

The crowd had a choice to make. Who would be spared? Barabbas or Jesus? Murderer or Healer? Rebel or Restorer? Evil or Good? Sinful man or Savior?

Pilot knew Jesus was innocent, but he was more concerned about himself than the truth. He expected the crowd to vote for the release of Jesus, anticipating being able to wash the ordeal from his hands. But belligerent, raging voices roared for the death of Jesus, the slaughter of innocent blood, incited by their religious leaders.

Thundering voices demanded life for Barabbas. They were unwittingly trading eternal life with Jesus for a criminal. The multitudes couldn’t see past the moment, the frenzy, the peer pressure.

For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few that find it.” Matthew 7:14 (NASB)

Barabbas was being held for committing murder during an insurrection. Jesus, whom the crowd wanted crucified, had been arrested under false pretenses. The name Barabbas is the Aramaic for Yeshua Bar Abba, meaning son of the father or forefathers. The name Jesus is the Hebrew for the Lord is Salvation.

Our reality is that… Barabbas is us. We are the sons of our earthly father (Adam). All of us are sinners or lawbreakers. Each of us deserved death, and were held captive until we were set free by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus. The masses chose the son of the father over the son of God.

Yet even in His imprisonment, Jesus saved.

Jesus would die so someone else could live. It was a final, beautiful gift before His death on the cross. His life for Barabbas. The significance of the name Barabbas reveals God’s plan from the beginning of time. We, the sons of the father were to be set free by the Son of God. God blew His breath into the lungs of Adam, the first father, bringing to life the one God made in His image. Jesus gave His last breath to bring all of us to life.

The layers of meaning were lost in the throng of ridicule and mockery that were so loud ears couldn’t hear and so clouded eyes couldn’t see. Such a paradox. A crowd demanding the death of the Savior they so desperately needed, and seeking release for the son of the father. They had no clue they’d painted the picture of redemption.

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand here after” (John 13:7 NASB)

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

michele mccarthy

About the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

In Michele’s new book Aunt Ida Clare, Rosalina is not quite sure what to think of their new babysitter. Aunt Ida is quite the sight. Rosalina’s Daddy calls her flamboyant. Aunt Ida Clare shares the purpose behind speaking life-giving words to an unsuspecting brother and sister. She is positively the best thing to happen to these impressionable children.

Join the conversation: Do you relate to Barabbas?