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We Are Barabbas

hands gripping wire gate
March 31, 2018
Jeff Atherholt

Hauled by the Roman guards to the judgement seat of Pontius Pilate, he stood before a sea of faces as Pilate gave the crowd a choice shouting, “Shall I free this man?”

Some of the faces he knew; the rest were strangers. Sometimes muttering, at other times shouting, the crowd grew increasingly restless. Their eyes occasionally met his with a darkness that threatened the dim light of hope within him.

What were they thinking?

Were they for him?

Were they against him?

Why would they be against him? He was only serving his people Israel. It was for this that he was arrested and tried and found guilty. It was for them that he strove. For them, he was faithful to the teaching of his father, so much so that he was called “son of the father.” He was a servant of the Jewish cause giving his all for his people.

He was… Barabbas.

Described in the New Testament as a murderer and enemy of Rome, Barabbas was arrested and tried for having led an insurrection against the Roman authority in Jerusalem. It was during this insurrection he committed murder. His name, Barabbas, literally means “son of the father” or “father’s son.” Just why he bore this name is uncertain. He may have been named by his parents or more likely given this name later in life to reflect his devotion to a rabbi or leader. Since he led an insurrection, it also seems likely that Barabbas was a member of the Zealots who stood against the Roman occupation of Israel.

Barabbas was offered up to the crowd by Pilate as an alternative to crucifying another man who also stood before the people that day. He had served the Jews as well and was convicted of a crime which was slowly leading to His being crucified. Like Barabbas, He was closely connected to His father, too; however, this man was not just known as the son of His father Joseph. He claimed that God was His Father, and for this He was accused of blasphemy.

Both men were sons of their fathers; one, Barabbas, claimed an earthly father, and the other, Jesus, the Heavenly Father and creator of all things.

One man was guilty and hoped to escape his punishment and save himself. The other was innocent, but ready to embrace a punishment and die a death he didn’t deserve, losing Himself to save others.

One man would live and die while the other… would die and live again.

Which man is your brother?

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