Barabbas might well be the most disposable character in the narrative of Jesus’ final days. He makes the briefest of cameo appearances and disappears never to be heard from again.
Actually, he might not even make an appearance. In every theatrical depiction of the Jesus or Barabbas Trial I can recall, Pilate has the two of them standing alongside of him as he asks the gathered crowd who they want released. But I just went back and carefully reread the story in all four gospels and none of them indicate Pilate physically presented Barrabas to the audience. Luke comes closest when he says, “But they all cried out together, saying, “Away with this man! Release to us Barabbas!’” One could infer Jesus stood before them, but there is no indication Barabbas did.
Further, I have been unable to find any evidence, although some speculation exists in current writing, as to anything regarding what became of him after his release. He disappears as quickly as he arrived.
So, is it at all possible he might be a role model for us?
Many of our Christian rituals and liturgies proclaim Jesus suffered the cross for us or that Jesus died in our place. From the theological and eschatological perspectives, we hold this to be true. But from the physical and legal perspectives, Jesus did indeed die for Barabbas.
Second, Barabbas was convicted for crimes against the State. In none of the gospels, is it never once suggested he was innocent, or claimed innocence. He was charged, tried and convicted, merely awaiting his execution. We too have no claim of innocence, “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
By the very act of accepting Pilate’s sentence, Jesus released Barabbas from his deserved fate, and Barabbas accepted his release without question. Barabbas was given new life.
I, like Barabbas, stand convicted – not in the court of the land, but rather in the Court of the Lord. I pray I have the good sense to accept the gift Jesus offers me without question, and by so doing I too will be granted new life. I commit to living as a man released from the sin and death.
Barabbas, a man with new life through the sacrifice of Jesus,