How Jesus and Barabbas Are Similar but Very Different – And That Makes All the Difference
Just imagine1. . .
Barabbas, the son of the father
“He’s so beautiful,” the baby’s mother said to her husband. “Look, he has your eyes. Let’s call him Barabbas, son of the father.”
The proud father smiled.
Years flew by, and Barabbas grew up.
Now Barabbas sat in prison as another prisoner stood before Governor Pilate.
Jesus, the Son of the Father
“Crucify Him!” the people shouted. Some screamed and pointed at Jesus as He stood before Pilate in Jerusalem.
Pilate looked at the crowd of angry Jews and asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas 2, or Jesus, who is called the Messiah?’”
The crowd shouted, “Give us Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
“Crucify Him!” they shouted.
“Why, what evil has He done?”
But they shouted all the more. “Crucify Him!”
Sitting in prison, Barabbas heard the guard approaching.
“Barabbas, this is your lucky day. Come with me. You’re being released.”
Barabbas stood with a look of shock mingled with confusion and elation.
“Pilate wants to release some man named Jesus, the Jew’s Messiah,” the guard said, “but the Jews seem determined to crucify Him. Pilate ordered me to bring you. He’s going to make them choose between you and Jesus.”
“Their want to crucify their own Messiah? What crime did He commit?”
“Nothing that I can tell. But they want to crucify him anyway.”
Barabbas shook his head and laughed. “This may be my lucky day after all.”
Similar but Different
Barabbas literally means “son of the father.”
Some ancient manuscripts of Matthew 27:16–17 record his full name as “Jesus Barabbas.”
Jesus was the Son of God the Father. (John 10:36)
Being the son of the father was their only similarity, though.
Jesus did the will of His Father, God. (John 6:38)
Barabbas did the will of his father, Satan. (John 8:44)
Barabbas stood guilty but not condemned. (Mark 15:7)
Jesus stood innocent but condemned. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Pilate set Barabbas free so that Jesus, the Son of His Father, God, would not, in order that we could be free.
The Rest of the Story
I wish I knew the rest of Barabbas’ story.
If I continued to imagine the parts of his story not included in the Bible, I’d place him in the back of the crowd gathered at Calvary.
He’d watch and wonder about this strange man named Jesus who seemed both helpless and yet powerful.
I’d imagine Christ, as he hung on the cross, looking into Barabbas’ eyes with love.
And as Christ died, I’d like to believe Barabbas would understand and believe. And be saved.
I guess I’ll find out when I get to heaven. I hope he chose well and became Barabbas, not just the son of his father, but Barabbas, a child of God.
As Easter approaches, consider the minute details God orchestrated to ensure we would have no excuse to know, understand, and believe that Jesus Christ is the true Son of the Father, and He came to die for you.
“Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life;
no one comes to the Father
but through Me.”
(John 14:6 NASB)
1 This post is taken from the following biblical passages AND my imagination of what could’ve happened. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about Barabbas’ childhood or family. We know very little about him, but the Bible does tell us through his name that he was “the son of the father” and why he wound up in prison. Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18, and Acts 3:14; Matthew 27:17; John 18:40; Matthew 27:22-23
2 Some ancient manuscripts of Matthew 27:16–17 list the name of the murderer as Jesus Barabbas. Others list his name only as Barabbas.