Jesus Barabbas // Maundy Thursday [Holy Week]

Jesus Barabbas
Author: Tim Haring, Senior/Teaching Pastor
Day 5: Maundy Thursday
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:15-26
For Christians, Easter is the year’s most important “holy day” (or “holiday”). Jesus was crucified for our sins, but He rose again from the dead, opening the way for us to have eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16).

One fact I find interesting about the Easter story is that many of the stories that surround the Easter story illustrate this message. Three examples include 1) the thief on the cross who was hanging next to Jesus. He found new life in Christ (in Paradise) after making a “deathbed confession.” 2) The man who carried Jesus’ cross up to Calvary likely became a disciple of His later on, and 3) a condemned murderer named Barabbas was released from “death row” because Jesus was condemned in his place.

Barabbas’ story especially points to the idea that the gospel is about a righteous Savior dying for guilty sinners, setting them free. Barabbas was a rebel and murderer. He was probably the next in line to be nailed to a cross, but because of a tradition related to the Passover festival, he was set free instead. The Roman ruler, Pilate, had asked the crowd to release Jesus during the Passover festivities, but they responded that they wanted Barabbas instead. And so, the Innocent One ended up being condemned for the guilty.

Like Barabbas, we’ve been snatched from death’s grip and given new life through Christ.  

There are a few interesting details from Barabbas’s story that demonstrate the significance of Jesus dying for this particular man. Let me give you some examples.
According to a footnote in my study Bible, some ancient manuscripts indicate that Barabbas’ full name was “Jesus Barabbas.” In essence, Pilate released one Jesus for another! Jesus Christ was condemned, so Jesus Barabbas could be set free. This is the gospel story!  

Second, it’s interesting to note that the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Of course, Jesus was the Son of the Heavenly Father. And so, one Father’s Son ended up dying in the place of another father’s son.
Imagine though, what it must have been like for Barabbas the moment he was set free. He had been anticipating his own death for crimes he had committed. He may have even been trying to figure out how to get right with God in the short amount of time that remained. But suddenly, an innocent man was being put forth for crucifixion in his place. Someone who had done no wrong was being condemned so he, a criminal, could be set free. Dr. A.F. Walls writes about this, “Barabbas became an exemplification of the effects of substitutionary atonement.”
As believers in Christ, we recognize that Jesus died in our place and for our sins. His resurrection proved God accepted the payment He made on our behalf. Like Barabbas, we’ve been snatched from death’s grip and given new life through Christ.  





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