Barabbas: The Son of the Father
“Give us Barabbas”, the crowed screamed in a frenzy. “Release him to us”. Has my time come so quickly, he thought, while sitting in his cold lonely cell. His mind wandered back in time, as he sat listening to his father teach; he was a great man, well respected and a well known Rabbi. He was named after his father; Barabbas means, “son of the father” or “son of the rabbi.”
He had great intentions as a young boy, even wanting to grow up to be just like his father. He had began his studies, his professors noted that he was a good student, he was not satisfied with the status quo, but was always questioning and providing his own theories as well. Then one day he was introduced to some young men who had organized a group, a group to reorganize the Jews and to overthrow the Roman authority that was in charge. It seemed like the right thing to do; wasn’t it the will of God, weren’t the Jews his people?
“The meetings were great, the Jews would rise again. I listened to speech after speech, I was even asked to speak at the rally one evening, it was exhilarating, this is what I had been studying for, this was my dream. Then somehow it all went wrong. We began to steal, to support our cause and to disrupt those who opposed us. I was a thief, a brigand, part of an outlaw band. This was not the life I had planned, hiding in back alley’s, rummaging through someone’s house while they were gone, selling their possessions on the black market. I was arrested numerous times for petty thefts, but my father’s influence helped keep me out of jail. My father never scolded me, he didn’t have to, the disappointment in his eyes and his unnerving silence said it all. Then it happened. We were having a meeting near the Gabbatha, it was a frenzy, the speeches had excited us and it was a mob like scene that the soldiers came upon. They were sent to quell this rebellion, to send us home and let us sleep off the wine that had dulled our senses and clouded our judgment. I was in a mild hysteria, the soldier came toward me and I saw the knife flash in the light of his torch, there were screams, and then I saw him on the ground, covered in blood. I looked at my hands, covered in his blood as well. What had I done? I must run, get to my father, but it was to late, I was arrested for insurrection and murder and thrown in this cell to await my fate”.
Barabbas came to his senses with a jolt, there was a key turning in the door, it screeched at is was swung open. “Come on Barabbas,” said the soldier, “times up, let’s go.” Barabbas walked slowly with his head held high, he would show them, he would show no fear. “You must be the luckiest man alive,” another soldier said. Barabbas said nothing as he heard the crowd cry, “crucify him.” So this was it, crucifixion, a cruel death on the cross, even my father could not get me out of this one. “Give us Barabbas,” the crowd screamed again. What? Did they want vigilante justice; take the law into their own hands. “Lucky,” the soldier said again as we entered the Gabbatha, “you’re to be released.” Released, what, had my father got me out of another mess? “My father,” I asked? “No,” the soldier explained, “Jesus”. You’re to be released and this Jesus is to take your place.” “Crucify him,” the crowd screamed, “release Barabbas.”
The chains were removed from his hands, the soldier gave him a shove, “get out of here before they change their mind, you know how fickle mobs are.” I staggered away, still in unbelief at what had transpired. My father could not get me out, but Jesus did. The crowd chose me, Barabbas, “the son of the father,” but rejected Jesus, the son of the Father. My heart went out to him, I wanted to go to him, to embrace him, to kneel at his feet, but the crowd was in a frenzy, like an insurrection and an innocent man was about to die.
History is silent on the life of Barabbas after he was released but there is a Jewish tradition that says that when he was released he followed the crowd to Golgotha and watched the crucifixion of Jesus. A few years later he was killed in another attempt at an insurrection.
No one can tell of the cross like Barabbas, not even Paul. Paul knew the theology of the cross, but Jesus actually died on the cross that was made for Barabbas. “Barabbas was the only man in the world who could say that Jesus Christ took his physical place.
Some believe that the two thieves that were crucified with Jesus were comrades of Barabbas, as there were three crosses and three prisoners. When Barabbas was released, his two partners were still crucified along with Jesus.
This article “Barabbas the Son of the Father” by Clifton Purdy was excerpted from: ‘New Testament Illustrations’ by Clifton Purdy 1997. The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely use for personal study and research purposes.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the Meat. Throw away the bones.”