Would you rather a cold-blooded murderer walk free on your streets or a physician?
“But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One
and asked for a murderer to be granted to you”
~ Acts 3:14
“No, not Him. Give us Barabbas!” (John 18:40)
The Jewish leaders demanded that Pilate release Barabbas, a convicted thief and murderer, instead of Jesus, the Man who’d fed over 9,000 people and healed the sick and raised the dead.
They wanted Jesus crucified, not the murderer.
Did they think about what they were asking?
They wanted the murderer free, not Jesus.
Did they consider the consequences?
…asked for a murderer to be granted to you…
On October 26, 1974, Willie Horton and two accomplices brutally murdered a 17-year-old boy. Willie was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole—but apparently not without the possibility of a weekend holiday.
On June 6, 1986, the Maryland prison released Willie on “weekend furlough.”
What could possibly go wrong with that idea?
Willie didn’t report back to prison.
Wow! Never saw that coming.
On April 3, 1987, Willie displayed his evil nature again. Fortunately, he was recaptured.
The sentencing judge refused to send Willie back to Maryland fearing he’d be given another weekend holiday. The judge said, “This man should never be allowed to draw a breath of free air again.”
So, now I ask you to reconsider the scene when Pilate asks the crowd who they want released:
Jesus or Barabbas?
They asked Pilate to release a cold-blooded murderer into their streets; to let him be free to approach their children.
They preferred a murderer in their streets over the Holy One. They wanted the One who did only good His entire life to suffer and die.
But’s it even bigger than that.
Look at the murderer’s name. Barabbas.
Barabbas means “son of father.”
Barabbas, the son of his father, is released
instead of Jesus, The Son of the Father.
But that’s not all.
Think about who Barabbas’ father is.
I’m not talking about his biological father, but his spiritual father. When they say, “He looks just like his dad,” who would you say he looks like?
“You are of your father the devil,
and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth
because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie,
he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.
~ John 8:44
Barabbas may not have had his father Satan’s eyes, but he certainly had his father’s heart—dark and evil.
It was out of the evil of their own hearts that the Jewish leaders and the crowd demanded Barabbas be free and Jesus crucified, but this was also God’s plan.
Satan meant it for evil, but God intended it for good.
God CHOSE for Barabbas, the son of his father Satan, to be pardoned instead of His own Son—and He did it for us.
God would not allow His Son to be pardoned,
so that we—murderers, liars, sons of Satan—could be.
Don’t get offended that I’ve just compared us to Barabbas or Willie Horton.
Hopefully you’ve never done anything compared to what these men have done, but had you lived the life they lived, can you honestly say with absolute certainty that you wouldn’t have done what they did?
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
~ Romans 3:10-12
This includes you—and me.
Let this reality soak in and refresh you.
We are ALL guilty, but God still pardons Murderers.
I’m one of them. No, I don’t have anyone buried in my back yard, but I’ve hated people (not you, of course—others), and Christ likens that to murder. And trust me, I’ve done much worse than murder people in my heart.
Makes me thankful for Romans 8:1:
“Therefore there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
~ Romans 8:1
That’s a full pardon, not based on merit, but on grace.
The next time you think about Barabbas, or Willie Horton, or you see a murderer on the news, let that remind you of when God would not allow His Son to be pardoned, so that we—while we were still His enemy—could be pardoned.
Have you accepted His pardon?
If not, Romans 10:9 teaches how to receive that full pardon:
If you have accepted His pardon, walk worthy of your extravagant reprieve. You deserved death, but received life. AMEN!
I’m so glad God still pardons murderers. Whew!
(Thanks for joining me here on my journey through God’s Word.
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.)
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 Barabbas [N] [H] [S] i.e., son of Abba or of a father, a notorious robber whom Pilate proposed to condemn to death instead of Jesus, whom he wished to release, in accordance with the Roman custom (John 18:40 ; Mark 15:7 ; Luke 23:19). But the Jews were so bent on the death of Jesus that they demanded that Barabbas should be pardoned (Matthew 27:16-26 ; Acts 3:14). This Pilate did. (These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.)
 In this passage, Jesus is talking with the Jewish leaders who were seeking to kill Him. The truth in this passage can also be applied to Barabbas, as anyone who does not believe in Jesus as the only way to the Father, is not in the family of God. There are only two families/two kingdoms: God’s and Satan’s.
 Matthew 5:21-22