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Here is a conjecture about a historical event, but it could have happened just this way. A man named Barabbas had been involved in open revolt against Roman rule, and was guilty of murder. He was in prison awaiting crucifixion – death by extended, painful, torturous suffering. Possibly the prison was not far from where judgment was pronounced on prisoners. It could have been within earshot of the mob clamoring for Jesus’ death sentence.


Pilate, the Roman ruler, knew Jesus was not a revolutionary. He tried to evade the clamor for Jesus’ death. Every year at the Passover festival the Roman ruler would release one Jewish prisoner.


Interestingly Barabbas’ first name was also Jesus. Pilate offered a choice, and thought surely they would choose Jesus Christ over a man described as a robber, insurrectionist, and notable prisoner.



So he asked, “Whom shall I release unto you? Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called ‘the Christ’?” The mob yelled, “BARABBAS! BARABBAS!” Barabbas in his cell probably couldn’t hear Pilate’s lone voice, but he could hear the mob clamoring for a crucifixion.



Pilate continued, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called ‘the Christ’?” And again Barabbas could only hear the mob shouting, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!”


Then shortly he heard the contingent of Roman guards coming into the prison. One took the key and opened the cell door. Barabbas was terrified and likely didn’t understand the first time the guard said, “You are free to go.” Barabbas’ life had been exchanged for that of Christ.

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