The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

Barabbas: who was he ? (PDF) PDF version

Barabbas: who was he ?

We have heard his name many times. We see him in films related to the life of Jesus. When the day of the crucifixion arrives, here he is together with Jesus. His name is Barabbas. Barabbas, was a criminal, responsible for insurgence, murder and robbery. He was a murderer. That’s how Peter calls him in Acts 3:14. The penalty for his actions was death. The name Barabbas is composed by “Bar” that means son and “abass” that means father. He was “son of a father” i.e. a son of somebody. Here he is therefore together with Jesus before the Pilate. From the one side the innocent, Jesus Christ the Son of God. No evil was found in Him. He walked doing good and healing the people. And yet He is in the death queue. From the other side a murderer, a criminal that was condemned to death. One of the two will go to the cross and Barabbas has all the reasons to be there. The cross is his normal end. But let’s read the relative passage in Luke 23:13-25 :

Luke 23:13-25
“And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucifyhim, crucify him. 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. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.”

Jesus was delivered to be crucified and Barabbas was sent free! The innocent went to the cross in the stead of the guilty. But who is Barabbas anyway? I’ll tell you. It is me and you. In the person of Barabbas we are all of us. All of us “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us were condemned. All of us were worthy to go to the cross, and destined for the lake of fire. But here comes Jesus Christ, the innocent lamb, the lamb of God and He takes the place of Barabbas. Barabbas is now free. Me and you were released and are now free! See how the Word describes it in Ephesians 2:1-10 :

Ephesians 2:1-10
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We were dead in trespasses and sins and God quickened us in Christ! He gave us new life! I believe God may had involved murderer Barabbas in the crucifixion scene to demonstrate his love: Barabbas’s life was saved by the death of Jesus Christ. He was destined to death, just as me and you were dead in sins and trespasses. The cross was made for him! Yet his life was spared by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus had not been “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8) Barabbas would be dead that day. Similarly it is through this obedience of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father that you and I, provided we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Son of God, became from dead alive. From children of wrath to children of God.

Galatians 3:26
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. ”

From slaves to sin, members of the kingdom of His dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-14
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”

I don’t know what happened to Barabbas. But I know something: the next time that I will read the crucifixion passages or see them played, I will know that I was like him, dead in trespasses and sins, destined for the cross, and exactly as him I was released and set free by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who took not only Barabbas’ place in the cross but also ours. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus Christ, if you still haven’t tasted the sweet freedom He made possible for you with His death, I would very much encourage you to do so. Let Him set you FREE! As the Bible says:

Romans 10:9-10 says:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

It is not works that are going to save you, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection. And as He saved Barabbas life from the death of the cross, as He saved my life as He saved billion’s of others’ lives from being dead in trespasses and sins, He will also save YOU! Don’t delay. Give your life to Him TODAY!

Anastasios Kioulachoglou