Who was Barabbas? We find Barabbas in the four Gospels right smack dab in the middle of the trial of Jesus. As we gather facts about him from the four evangelists, we are told that Barabbas was a notorious robber, murderer, and insurrectionist (Matthew 27:16; Mark15:7; Luke 23:18; John 18:40).
How much do you think you have in common with this guy? Have you ever robbed anyone? Do you now, or have you ever considered yourself an insurrectionist? Are you ready to lead a revolt at a moment’s notice? Have you murdered? If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t any of those things. Chances are, not many of us would identify ourselves with this man at all.
But something has struck me about this man Barabbas. It has occurred to me that this whole scene with Barabbas is a microcosm of our salvation…it is a microcosm of the Gospel. In fact, you might as well take your Bibles and cross out Barabbas’ name and insert your own name. Now, you might be thinking… “I am nothing like that man”, but I disagree.
We are all Barabbas. Sure our sins might not look so ugly, at least not in the minds of men. Our sins might be the acceptable sins…the respected sins that everyone overlooks and accepts…the gossiping, the lying, the slandering, the lusting….but in the end, all of us stand in the exact same position of Barabbas. We are all sinners. We all deserve to be executed for our crimes, because we know that God is a Holy God and His standard is perfect. The consequence for just one sin, just one infraction of God’s perfect law, must be death, and not just physical death, but spiritual death, which is complete separation from God.
But here is the beauty of the Gospel…we might call it the Gospel of Barabbas…
As Pilate held both Jesus and Barabbas before the the crowd to choose which prisoner he should release, the One Jesus, was completely innocent and yet He was declared guilty. The other man Barabbas was completely guilty, but was declared to be innocent. Jesus died in His place.
And so I want you to know that you could insert your name there for Barabbas’ name. We are all that guy. We are all waiting on death row to pay the penalty for our sins. And even though we are guilty and deserving death, the One who was innocent, Jesus, died in your place. He was declared guilty because of your sins…you were declared righteous because of His sacrifice.
Now, for all those who are not standing in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, instead of standing innocent in his righteousness, you are standing in your own righteousness and sins…and your punishment will be eternal separation from God in Hell.
And so to be saved…you must repent and believe on Jesus…Recognize that even though you deserve that cross….Jesus took it in your place.
At one time we were Barabbas, but now we are counted as Christ.
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)