Barabbas was filled with hatred. He hated the Romans with a passion. They had conquered Israel and were ruling over them with an iron fist. He was a zealot and had joined this group of like-minded men for the sole purpose of violence and insurrection against the government. He had killed many Romans and would kill more if he had the chance.
At this moment, Barabbas stood on one side of Governor Pilate next to his judgment seat overlooking a large crowd in judgment hall. He was not alone on the platform. On the other side of the judgment seat stood another man. He was beaten and bloody from head to toe. His face was still bleeding from a crown of thorns that had been placed on His head. He too was a prisoner. It was nearing Passover celebration and as was the custom of the Romans, one criminal would be set free and the other crucified. Barabbas was ready. He would gladly die for his beliefs. Knowing this day would bring his crucifixion and death only enticed his anger of the Romans to reach its highest peak.
Now as he stood before the crowd that gathered in the hall, he knew his fate was near. The other man-the one named Jesus, surely would be released. He had heard about this man and in fact, he had stood on the fringes of the crowd gathered around Jesus. He had heard him teach more than once but had not been convinced to follow His teachings.
Barabbas’ attention was drawn back to the crowd. They were shouting his name. Surely there must be a mistake. Pilate had asked which one of the two should be released. The crowd had responded with loud shouts, “Barabbas, Barabbas”.
The crowd wanted Jesus to die. This man had taught love and compassion. He had done nothing wrong except anger the Sanhedrin. Ah, that was it. Barabbas then remembered how much he also hated the corrupt religious leaders of Israel.
He turned to look at Jesus and his eyes met the man who had claimed to be the Messiah. What he saw in Jesus’ eyes astonished him. He witnessed no anger, no defiance or hatred but only love and compassion. It touched the heart of Barabbas.
Barabbas was released and the crowd cheered. Pilate asked “then what should we do with this man” and the crowd shouted “Crucify Him. Crucify Him”. And Jesus was led away to die on a cross.
Questions flooded the mind of Barabbas. “How could this be? I am guilty. Jesus has done nothing to deserve death. Why was this man going to die in my place? It should have been me. Why was this happening? I should be the one to be crucified for the things I have done. I am guilty.”
These questions weighted heavy on the heart of Barabbas and would haunt him daily until he knew the answer.
Do you know why Jesus died in your place? He was the sinless, blameless Son of God. He died that you might live. He died for you because of His love, His great *“hesed”.
Romans 3: 25 “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. “
Romans 5: 8 “But God demonstrates his own love (*“hesed”) for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (emphasis mine)
1 John 4: 7-10 “… This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love (*“hesed”): not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. “ (emphasis mine)
Would Barabbas learn the truth about Jesus and accept him as Lord and Savior?
*”Hesed” means the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious, loving kindness and everlasting love of our God who shows grace and mercy.