Summary: The story of Barabbas is the story of me (and you) and everyone who needs Jesus.
I Am Barabbas
• The decision had been made to have Jesus killed. The religious leaders have had enough, seen enough, and heard enough to know that Jesus had to die. The one problem that they faced and that was that they, as the religious leaders, didn’t have the authority to put someone to death. Because the Romans were really the Jewish people were forbidden by law from condemning anyone to death. Now it makes sense while the disciples had difficulty believing Jesus when he said that he would be handed over to the Jewish leaders and be killed, there was a law against it.
• However, the religious leaders may not have had the authority to condemn Jesus but where there is a will there is a way and they knew the man who did have the authority, his name was Pilate. But they had another problem because they knew that Pilate would not invoke the death penalty on Jesus for religious reason. This meant they had to come up with some charges that would lead Pilate to condemn Jesus to death. They had to show Jesus as a literal “clear and present danger” to Rome as well as an opponent to Caesar. Certainly, charging Jesus was proclaiming himself as the “King of the Jews” would do the trick. While Mark tells us that “the chief priest accused Him of many other things,” Luke adds that they laid a threefold indictment on Him, “Misleading the nation, forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He is the Christ, a King.”
• So now that they had presented sufficient charges against Jesus Pilate was faced with the dilemma. We must understand that Pilate was placed in this position to keep the peace for Rome in Jerusalem and he was already under the gun for a past failure with a group of insurrectionist & a man named “Barabbas.” And for Pilate, Barabbas might be the answer to this problem.
• From the scripture we know that Pilate knew the right thing to do because three times he pronounced, “I find no fault in this man.” In other words, the judge found Jesus innocent which should have closed the matter. However, he knew His problem was far deeper than right and wrong. He knew that to cut Jesus loose was to cause great problems in his city with such a swollen population. So he was looking for a way to preserve the peace & save face. Barabbas could be his answer. Frequently, when faced with a ‘right or wrong’ choice and public opinion or majority opinion is against you, it is easy to choose the popular over the right.
• However, Pilate had this thing figured out. In times past, he had allowed the crowd to choose some ‘criminal’ to go free. Certainly, this was his way out because there was NO WAY in his mind that this crowd would choose to allow Barabbas to go free & kill this young Rabbi. However, as much as we hate it, in the Bible when the majority makes a decision, they choose wrong. In the days of Noah, Moses, and now Jesus, we see a pattern.