Have you ever thought about the man Pilate brought out before the people? The criminal case that was … dismissed!
A man who was guilty in the courtroom of heaven, but dismissed by man, and a man who was innocent in the courtroom of heaven, condemned by man.
Matthew 27:16-26 NKJV
16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
17Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
18For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
Luke 23:13, 14, 18-25
39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
John adds that Barabbas was a “robber.” It is the first time robbery is attached to Barabbas. Now to give Barabbas the benefit of the doubt here, I imagine he could be a completely unsavory scoundrel, or he could also be a hero – of the order of Robin Hood, prince of thieves. Did he steal from the people for his own benefit, or from the government for the benefit of the poor? Did someone end up dead as collateral damage? I guess we’ll never know. But here is an interesting note on some commentary I found for Mark 15:7…
[Barabbas.] Let us mention also with him a very famous rogue in the *Talmudists, Ben Dinai, whose name also was Eleazar. Of whom they have this passage worthy of chronological observation; “From the time that murderers were multiplied, the beheading the red cow ceased; namely, from the time that Eleazar Ben Dinai came; who was also called Techinnah Ben Perishah: but again they called him, The son of a murderer.” Of him mention is made elsewhere, where it is written Ben Donai. See also Ben Nezer, the king of the robbers.
(*THE TALMUD was the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend which comprised the Mishnah and the Gemara. There are two versions of the Talmud: the Babylonian Talmud – which dates from the 5th century AD but includes earlier material, and the earlier Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud).
So, Luke (vs.19) and Mark (vs.7) could be identifying Barabbas with this group. Perhaps Barabbas was Ben Dinai, or a disciple, or a member of his band? If so, what a crazy time for Jesus to come upon the scene, in the middle of a revolution.
So, over here, on this side of the stage, in this corner of the ring, is a man who has caused a rebellious uprising, is a notorious prisoner, is a murderer, and misled the people: Barabbas, of “THE ROBBERS!”
And over there in the other corner is a man who sought out the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame, healed their sickness and disease, and brought the dead back to life, Jesus, the “KING OF THE JEWS.”
Because of the jealousy of the religious leaders and the chivalry of the Roman government, the people were forced to choose, and it struck me like a bolt of lightning when it first dawned on me that Barabbas’ name means, “father’s son” (Bar = son + abba = father – Strongs #912 in the Greek dictionary, or #1347 in Chaldean with #5 in Aramaic – the mixed dialog of Palestine). An earthly man of an earthly father, who had only done terrible things to the people.
And Jesus, who was in the beginning with God, and became a Son of the heavenly Father. Abba being the name Jesus used for His Father in the garden prayer (Mark 14:36) before He went to the cross. A Son of the heavenly Father, who had only done good things for the people.
Who did they choose? Better yet, who do YOU choose?
Barabbas (a father’s son)
- A “rebel” who “along with his gang of rebels, led a rebellion
- “One who misleads the people” (a liar, basically)
- One who “committed murder”
- “A robber”
And his parallel character…
Satan (son of perdition)
- A rebel: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9). “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Revelation 12:4).
A liar: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”… Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1,4)
- A murderer: “…the devil… was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44
- A robber: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
I believe both persons come together as an analogy (or a sort-of parable) of the very choice that has been thrust upon humanity from the beginning of time.
Satan is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an imposter (anti-christ). A son of iniquity. Always on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour. An accuser of the brethren who accuses us before the Father day and night, who first gets us to sin (lie, cheat, steal, drink, do drugs, beat people up, kill, sleep around, gossip, gamble, etc.) and then runs to rat us out to God as soon as we eat the forbidden fruit he tempted us with. He most defiantly misleads the people.
Satan appeared to Eve in the garden on that fateful day in Genesis, and cleverly convinced her to trust him over God. The next day was a dark day indeed for Adam and Eve, and all humanity with them. I imagine the fear and uncertainty and remorse they must have felt in their hearts as they looked back to a garden, guarded by angels, that they could never go back to. The punishment was swift… but a Messiah was coming.
In much the same way, how dark was the day after Jesus died, when that scoundrel Barabbas was loose and free to terrorize the people again, and they realized they’d been lied to and misled? Fear and dread must have hung thick in their souls. The sun was darkened. The earth quaked. But Sunday was coming!!!!!
Up from the grave He arose!
The good news is Barabbas eventually died, and Jesus lives!!!! The Light of the world (John 8:12) dawned out of a dark tomb and over the people for 40 days, and even though the scoundrel Satan, who has never done anything good for humanity, is loosed for a time, because humans keep choosing him, the good news is Jesus is coming again in even greater glory!!!! And Satan dies!!!!!
What a contrast in characters. One is a taker of life. The other, a SON who laid down His life. One tempts us to sin, and the other a SON who takes away our sins and the sins of the world. An insurrectionist against an intercessionist.
Jesus changed the course of history when He came, and the thing is, He knew what He was walking into, and that very few would choose Him, and that a very vocal majority would not choose Him, then or now. He forgave them (us) anyway, and asked God to forgive them (us) for they (we) knew not what they were doing.
Those jealous leaders of Jesus’ day, with their inflated egos, didn’t know at the time, but they didn’t take Jesus’ life, He laid His life down freely of His own accord. The truth was hidden from all of them at the time, almost like a parable. Let it not be hidden from you. Had the crowd NOT chosen Barabbas that day, Jesus would not have been the “Scapegoat,” the “Passover Lamb” that He came here to be. That we all needed Him to be.
It was Barabbas who deserved to be punished that day, but Jesus took his place. We are all sons and daughters of a Holy God/Creator, whose sins deserve punishment, but our Omnipotent Father provided a way of escape – a pardon.
On His last night, the Son, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and fell on the ground, and prayed, “Abba, Father (Father of fathers), all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36
~ Free Will or God’s Will? ~
This is the choice we have to make every moment of every day of our lives. In the beginning God gave us all free will, even when He knew His creation wouldn’t choose Him. And Satan has had a field day with the free will thing. (Click here for an informative article about God’s will, with a free printable of scripture cards). God the Father sent His Son Jesus onto that tragical scene 2000 years ago to give us the tools to defeat Satan – that criminal that stands on the stage of our lives opposite Jesus.
a son or The Son?
Satan came to party hardy and trash our house (mind/body/soul). Jesus came to sweep our houses clean and put them in order…
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26
“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:21, 22
Apart from God we can do nothing!
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” John 20:22
(He swept their houses clean and put them in order.)
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4,5) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” Ephesians 6:10-18
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father (Father of fathers). The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:14-17
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father (Father of fathers)! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4: 4-7
In other words: Do not exalt any human being on earth to the place of God in your heart. Warning! They will let you down. They are imperfect.
We live in a crazy mixed up time when so many fathers are absent from the home and the lives of their children. Either they are work-a-holics trying to put food on the table, or they are deadbeats who don’t want any responsibility. God intended earthly fathers to be a picture of our heavenly father; that we as children would feel their sacrificial love, experience their protection, and in return have great honor and respect for them. That’s why God hates divorce, sex outside of marriage, and alternative lifestyles. The design on earth is supposed to be a copy and shadow of heaven. Can you guess who messed it all up? Someone less than a true father, I assure you! John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, in the spirit of Elijah- Luke 1:17, by turning the hearts of the fathers to their children. My prayer is that the same spirit of Elijah will come and do it again! And may our hearts be turned to our heavenly Father again!!!! In Jesus’ name.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1
Because of Jesus, we can receive a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). Because THE SON made us sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
I hope that if you are feeling lonely, abandoned, heavy, guilty, burdened with sins, the weight of which keeps you from choosing Jesus, that you will know that you’ve not dug a hole for yourself too deep and too wide that God cannot or will not reach down into and pull you up out of. God the father sent His Son to that cross for YOU! To set you free. He paid the penalty for your sin. By His blood your criminal case with God can be hereby … DISMISSED! Just like the thief on the cross, the friend of Barabbas. The world may judge you guilty, but Jesus died for you, and paradise is waiting.
Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)
May I pray for you?
Lord I am a sinner. I’ve dug a deep pit for myself. I am a fool to be pittied. I’ve made just about every bad choice a person can make. I’ve been deceived. But Lord, today I choose YOU!!!!! Lord, set me free. Come and sweep my house and put it in order, and then fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Kick the devil out of my life and seal up every crack and crevasse where he might seek to re-enter. Set my feet upon solid rock and protect me from the storms my enemy brings against me. When Satan comes in like a flood, may You raise up a standard against him. May the plans of the enemy be exposed and may the fate he plans for me personally be his own demise, just like Haman in the Bible. Set Your hedge around me O Lord. Encompass me with safe boundaries. Expand my territory so that the gates of hell may not prevail. Renew my mind. Give me strength. And when my accuser comes to you asking to sift me as wheat, because I fell in a moment of weekness, Lord may the answer be NO! Let me not make excuses for the trespasses I’ve committed, but be forgiven of my sins, and cleansed from all unrighteousness. May the curses be broken. Help me not to pay forward the sins of my past, but let your kindness be in me. Bless me and my family that we may bless others. Give me eyes to see and hearts to feel compassion, and hands overflowing with generosity for those in need. Suit me up in the Spiritual Armor. Comfort me with the peace that passes understanding. Fill me with wisdom and knowledge from Your word to light my path and be a beacon of hope for others. All glory and honor to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Taste and see that the Lord is good!