What’s with Barabbas?


During the time of Pilate’s governorship in Judea, there was a custom that the governor should release to the people the prisoner of their choice at the time of Passover Week as Matthew 27:15, Mark 15:6, Luke 23:17 and John 18:39 testify. At Passover in the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, the populace was given the choice of having Pilate released from his custody, Jesus Christ or a prisoner called Barabbas. In spite of Pilate’s repeated offers to release Jesus, the Judeans (Jews) chose Barabbas. Luke 23:18.

Take your Bible KJV and turn to Matthew 27:16, 17. According to several principle Caesarean manuscripts, Barabbas’ name was Jesus Barabbas. In fact, according to the text of the United Bible Societies, Matthew 27:17 reads: “…whom will ye that I release unto you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ?

Rather than Jesus Christ, “the Son of the Father” God the true Father, the Judeans chose instead Jesus Barabbas, “the son of the father.” The counterfeit was chosen by the crowd. Jesus Barabbas, a murderer, was released instead of Jesus Christ “the prince of life.” The Apostle Peter noted this in addressing the men of Israel. Acts 3:13-15.

Jesus was the Son of God, his true father. The father-son relationship between God and Jesus was most intimate. Jesus used the Aramaic Word “aba” (transliterated “abba”) to talk directly to God, as in Mark 14:36. The term “aba” is defined as “the speech of a child to his father.” One may be a son by birth and thus address his parental parent as “father,” simply on the basis of sonship. However, the most intimate fellowship available between father and son is expressed int he word “aba.” In the 21st century vernacular, the expression could be translated “daddy” which puts the relationship on the familiar basis – on comfortable, dependent, affectionate, “talking terms.” Thus, abba found its way into two great Church Epistles which demonstrate the Christian’s freedom from law and ritual, and underscore his intimate relationship with God as his father. Romans 8:15 (“adoption” should be “sonship”); Galatians 4:6.

We learn in John 18:40, Barabbas was a robber, and Matthew 27:16 describes him as “a notable prisoner.” According to Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19, he had been imprisoned for sedition and insurrection, during which he had committed murder.

The irony of the Judeans’ choice of Jesus Barabbas as their favorite son is greater than has at this point in time been realized. He, as the “son of the father,” the murderer, was preferred over Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The people chose to have the counterfeit released, and they spurned the legitimate savior, the true Son of the Father, the Anointed One of God, the Messiah.

As Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Amen.

By Sidney Terhune

Religion Columnist

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