Lost in the Wilderness

Posted on February 26, 2013 in Bible, Theology, zAll

wildernessThe story of Barabbas details a man who was arrested for the crimes of murder (Luke 23:19) and theft (John 18:40). Barabbas was on trial alongside the Lord Jesus, and according to a Jewish custom, one prisoner was to be released at the Passover feast (John 18:39).

The multitude requested for Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus Christ (Mark 15:8). While this was to the initial disagreement of Pilate (Matthew 27:23), Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19), and Herod (Luke 23:15), Pilate consented to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in order to earn favor with the Jews.

The historical narrative of the story can open eyes to some additional spiritual truth found in the text, and confirm what Scripture already states:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. - John 3:19

Mark 15:7 teaches that Barabbas was chained and in prison with his fellow rebels. Similarly, not only is everyone a part of the chain of guilty sinners by Adam (Romans 5:12), but are also slaves to sin (Romans 6:20). We are shackled to the sinful nature that permeates our entire being unless Christ sets us free, which He did by drinking the cup of God’s wrath for us (John 18:11).

In Mark 15:8 the crowd shouted for and demanded the release of Barabbas. The masses of people today do the same thing- calling what is good evil (John 18:23), and loving sin more than God (2 Thessalonians 2:12). This was demonstrated by their desire to free a murderer and crucify the Christ.

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is shown when Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God (John 1:29), takes the place of Barabbas who deserved to be punished. Jesus, being innocent, took his place and was crushed by the Father for our sins (Isaiah 53:4).

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21

According to Levitical Law (Leviticus 16), the sacrifice was to consist of a bull that atoned for the priest and his family, and two goats that were presented alive before the Lord. The priest would cast lots to determine which of the two goats would be for the Lord, and which would be the scapegoat. The Lord’s goat would be killed and offered as a sin offering for the people. The scapegoat would be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it. The scapegoat was then released, unpunished, carrying the sins of the people with it. Jesus was the Lord’s sacrifice for sin, while Barabbas was the scapegoat.

The fellow rebels that were chained to Barabbas were probably the same two thieves crucified alongside Jesus. The thieves also represent all sinners who are guilty before God, but are made alive by Christ through faith (Romans 5:1).

Jesus Christ, being the true Son of God, was rejected by the Jews of that day (John 1:11). Then there was Barabbas (whose name translates “son of the father”). While Jesus Christ is the true Son of the Father, Barabbas was also the son of the father, but his father was the devil (John 8:44).

The choice we have before us today is the same as it has always been. Who will we choose, Barabbas or Jesus Christ?


Mike McKay

Comments ( 6 )

  1. ReplyJim

    Lol now the releasing of the prisoner makes sense.........I don't know why u called him jesus barrabas when it says barrabas only?

    • ReplyJ.R. Bjerke

      Jim, Great Question. In addition to Josephus and Church History recording the full name of Barabbas as "Jesus Barabbus" there are three things to be understood. First "Barabbas" should be read as "Bar" and "Abbas" and translated as "son of Abbas". This only identifies his family (Abbas) name not his first name. So while Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would have been known as Jesus bar Joseph or Jesus son of Joseph, Barabbas would have been known as Jesus bar Abbas or Jesus son of Abbas. Second, the Bible does call him "Jesus Barabbas" it just depends on which translation you choose to read. if the translation does not contain "Jesus Barabbas" it is usually noted that the earliest manuscripts use this reading.

      At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah? - Matthew 27:16-17 (NRSV)
      Third, the name "Jesus" before "Barabbas" in verses 16 and 17 is in brackets in the UBS text. Although the name "Jesus Barabbas" is found in only a few manuscripts, it is more likely to be original, because copyists would have been likely to have omitted the name "Jesus" from before "Barabbas" out of reverence, and there is no reason for it to have been added. Grace and Peace

      • Replynaz-rev

        Bjerke, So then you are saying the Bible has errors? is the man’s name Barabbas, or Jesus Barabbas. Sounds like to me you have just demonstrated one of the errors you claim does not exist.

        • ReplyJ.R. Bjerke

          Naz-Rev, I think you are grasping at straws here, since the man's name was Jesus Barabbas there is no error in referring to him by his full name or just his surname. We should not expect all 25,000 New Testament manuscripts to match exactly, if they did that would be collusion. The fact that they do not demonstrates that the original text is contained with in the textual tradition. Most translations indicate that the textual tradition refers to him as both Jesus Barabbas and Barabbas. Please explain how this is an error?

  2. ReplyAlex D.

    This is good but the title makes no sense wanna clarify, ? Also ty for this one if my favs 4 sure. Carry on but I do wanna know about the title. And one more question how is barrabbas a murderer and thief? Was it a murder gone bad?

  3. ReplyMike

    Dear Alex To answer your question about the title, it refers to Leviticus 16:10, the scapegoat was released into the wild, hence the wilderness in the title. The "lost" would be any barrabbas- type individual that's not crucified with Christ and denies the cross, released into the wild and remains lost. And concerning the crime, there might be some tradition about why the crime was committed, but it's falsifiable to me, so I'll let the text speak for itself, both crimes were commited by the accused.

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