Scripture Reading:  John 18:38-40

“‘But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at Passover.  So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’  They cried out again, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’  Now Barabbas was a robber.”  (John 18:39-40)

After Pilate interrogated Jesus, He announced to the angry crowd:  “I found no guilt in Him” (v. 38).  Pilate then made an appeal:  “But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at Passover.”  He placed before them a robber, Barabbas, and the sinless Son of God, Jesus.  The crowd chose the robber over the Son of God!

It is interesting to note that the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father.”  Isn’t it ironic that the people wanted Barabbas released rather than the true Son of the Father?  When you read all the gospel accounts about Barabbas, they reveal that he was not only a thief, but he was a man who had committed many crimes, including insurrection and murder (Matthew 27:16; Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18-19).  The crowd chose a common criminal over the sinless Son of God.

Why did the crowd chose Barabbas over Jesus?  At the highest level, it was the plan of the sovereign God of this universe for His sinless Son to become the atoning sacrifice for His people.  At the base level, the people were disappointed with Jesus because they thought He would be the king who would deliver them from the oppression of the Romans.  They had hoped that Jesus would bring about an end to the Roman occupation of Israel.

Jesus on multiple occasions stated that His mission was to seek and to save the lost.  He made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world.  But the people failed to understand these things.  Even His closest disciples did not fully understand His mission until after the resurrection.

The crowd choosing Barabbas rather than Jesus is a picture of the depravity of human beings.  Unregenerate people cannot understand spiritual truth (I Corinthians 2:14).  Their minds have been blinded to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel (II Corinthians 4:4).  Only the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit can open their eyes to God’s truth.  Unregenerate people would still chose Barabbas over Jesus today unless God caused them to be born again.

Lord Jesus Christ, sinless Son of God, I cannot imagine how You felt when the angry crowd chose Barabbas over You.  You gave Yourself for me.  You submitted Yourself to the injustice of depraved humanity in order to save me from my sins.  How can I every thank You enough?


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