Breaking Barabbas: What Does Your Freedom Look Like?

The seething mob clamored to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children! Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him! We choose Barabbas!” The Son of God, Jesus Christ, did not utter a word in protest to the frenzied crowd but rather kept His silence in humble submission to the Father’s will. In their haste to be rid of Jesus, the chief priests and elders “persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus” (Matthew 27:30). With bloodlust coursing through its veins, the crowd accepted responsibility for Jesus’ agonizing death and even placed that same curse on their children. They did not realize that the man they wanted nailed to a tree so hastily was the same man whose blood could cleanse their every sin and scar. Instead, they wanted a rebel and murderer in Barabbas freed according to the law. The multitude received a threat to their safety in place of a Savior. Despite their choice, each event was ushering in the cleansing of all unrighteousness.

In this preclude to Calvary, Jesus displayed a tenderheartedness that stood as a portrayal for all those who become saved. You see, I was a Barabbas as well. Every man and woman that has come to be saved was at one point just as filthy as Barabbas. However, in the same way that Jesus allowed Barabbas another lease on freedom, he also did for us by stretching out his hands to be nailed to the cross. History is mute on what Barabbas did with his second chance, but he had two routes to choose from. The first was returning to his anarchist ways, or second, cheris the mercy he was shown by Jesus and become a follower. None know how he ended his time, but we still have the opportunity to write our own stories. Yes, we were Barabbas and our liberation meant Jesus willingly exchanging himself for our re-inheritance of what was lost at the Fall. Nevertheless, His suffering had to be so that we might be free. It’s our task to transform into new creations in Christ and end our story in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Barabbas walking away was the microcosm of Jesus’ death at Golgotha. I was supposed to be on the cross, yet my Savior poured out His blood vicariously. In spite of our avoided penalty, there is still a life to live, and Barabbas had to return to reality.

The vicious multitude represents the world: unbelieving, vengeful, and fragmented. They loathed Jesus even though He was their Messiah. The world in its unbelief and hatred did not and currently will not taste salvation. As a newly freed Barabbas, we must walk back into the midst of the ferocious mobs (the world) and make the agreement to follow Christ. They don’t want to hear about the Gospel, even though they are the ones who need it desperately, yet we must boldly declare liberty in Christ. We were once part of the mob too, calling for Jesus’ head, but we found our way home to the Father through Jesus’ blood. There are more people in the world (the mob) that can be reformed rioters and “Barabbases” as well. They need someone to show the same mercy as Jesus and hear the message of salvation, and before you know it, another Barabbas has walked away righteous.

It won’t be simple or unobstructed. If one reads closely, the chief priest and elders, the ones who should have recognized the Messiah at the first take and led the people to Him, were the men who stirred up the crowd. It says in Matthew 27:18 that Pilate “knew that they (chief priests & elders) had handed him over because of envy.” What’s ironic is that the Sanhedrin had hypocritically accused Jesus of stirring up the people with his preaching. Not a few hours later, these men were calling for their own Jihad against Jesus. Today, there will be a core of leaders from all areas of society who unite against the name of Jesus Christ. Their hatred is cross-cultural and hell-certified. With this in mind, we must be the voices calling out into the dark. We won’t be crying out alone though, for the Holy Spirit is our translator and the Godhead’s press secretary. And remember: there is always another Barabbas to be found. The only obstacle is, “Will you inherit salvation from Jesus?” If you read this and are a believer, repeat this… “My name is (insert name), and I am a former Barabbas.”

Biblical References For Further Reading

  • Matthew 27—- Article focused on Matthew 27:15-26
  • Mark 15—- Article focused on Mark 15:1-15
  • Luke 23—- Article focused on Luke 23:13-25
  • John 18—- Article focused on John 18:28-40
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