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  • Writer's pictureMichele McCarthy

We are Barabbas

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 back right before Christ’s glorious return from the dead. It was the day of the preparation of the Passover. After being sent back and forth from Pontius Pilot to Herod and back again, Pilot came outside to discuss the fate of Jesus 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. Barabbas or Jesus. Murderer or Healer? Rebel or Restorer? Evil or Good? Sinful man or Savior?

Pilot knew Jesus was innocent, but he seemed more concerned about himself than the truth. He expected the crowd to vote for the release of Jesus during the Passover tradition of releasing a prisoner to the Jews. He anticipated washing the ordeal from his hands. Yet, belligerent, raging voices roared for the death of Jesus, the slaughter of innocent blood. The Priests incited the mob yelling they had no king but Caesar.

Thundering and ear-piercing voices shouted life for Barabbas. Were these people unwittingly trading eternal life with Jesus for a criminal—a life of guilt, shame and death? 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, the man released amidst the turbulent onlookers, was held prisoner for committing murder during an insurrection. Jesus, whom the crowd wanted crucified, was held prisoner 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.

The 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 deserve death, and are held captive until we are 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. Jesus gave a final beautiful gift before His suffering and death on the cross for everyone. His life for Barabbas. The significance of the name Barabbas revealing God’s plan from the beginning of time. We, the sons of the father 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 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)

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