The Crime of Barabbas, the Crime of Humanity, and the Innocence of Jesus
I have read about Barabbas many times. But during the most recent time I re-read it, the story spoke to me like never before. Let’s look at Mark 15:6-15:
6Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Barabbas was described as one of “the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection” (v.7). He was a rebel and a murderer. He may have been considered as a hero to the Jews, for he rebelled against the Roman government, which they hate. Nonetheless, he was a criminal deserving of punishment, much less crucifixion.
To my amazement, the chief priests and the crowd wanted this criminal to be released (v.11) and wanted Jesus to be crucified (vv.13-14). But Jesus was innocent. In response to the crowd’s request, Pilate asked “Why, what evil has he done?”, affirming His innocence (v.14). Pilate’s wife even sent word to him saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man” (Matthew 27:19).
Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and his wife affirmed His righteousness. But wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas and delivered Jesus to be crucified (v.15). The criminal was acquitted; the innocent punished.
Isn’t Barabbas a reflection of humanity? Aren’t we rebels against God? Ever since the Fall, humanity has been in rebellion against God. We are, in nature, rebellious (Deuteronomy 31:27-29) and every sinful act is a rebellion against God (Psalm 51:4).
Humanity’s rebellion against God was at its peak when humanity delivered His Son Jesus to be crucified. Humanity, in effect, murdered God’s own Son, who was innocent.
But it is precisely because of Jesus’ innocence that we can be made righteous before God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says:
21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I feel sorrowful that I used to be a part of that rebellion against God and that it lead to the death of His own Son. But I can’t help but be grateful to Jesus. O, rebellious me, deserving of punishment, was acquitted by innocent Jesus! Thank You, Jesus!
Let us thank Jesus. Though we are rebellious, His innocence has made a way that we may become righteous before God.