Barabbas – a divine exchange
Barabbas is one bad dude. He gets more space in the four gospels than Judas though. Jesus exchanged his life for Barabbas and for us.
The name Barabbas – Bar-Abba, literally means “son of the Father”. He turned out a freedom fighter, insurrectionist, terrorist. His proudest moment was his downfall – he helped ignite an insurrection against Rome, committing murder in the process. He was caught and thrown in a dungeon awaiting death by crucifixion. I’m going to change into Barabbas for a while and tell it from his perspective…
It was a strange Friday morning – execution day. I may not have been scared when I was freedom fighting, but I was petrified that day – crucifixion is excruciatingly painful and humiliating at the same time. As I was waiting, I could hear noises outside, my name being shouted over and over again and then “Crucify Him!, Crucify Him!” I strained to hear but then guards came and unbolted the door. They called my name, roughly pulled me out. I was blinded by sunlight and stunned to hear a guard say “You’ve been released, you are free to go.” I couldn’t believe it, but I wasn’t going to argue. Apparently I had been given an amnesty although I was as guilty as can be. Then I heard someone else was dying in my place, on my cross.
I didn’t hang around, I didn’t want the authorities to change their minds. I ran and ran outside the city limits and sat under a tree. Shortly the crowd moved past, two of my buddies carrying a cross and then Jesus too. He looked in pain but quiet. Mesmerised, I followed, to watch this grisly scene.
The three of them were on the floor and their hands and feet roughly nailed to the crosses, which were then lifted up and dropped into place. It hit me again – I should be on the middle one. Then I heard Jesus shout “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” You have got to be kidding – how could this Jesus ask Abba to forgive those who did this to him.
Then I heard one of my prison buddies cursing Jesus and then the other asking to be remembered by Jesus. He said “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Then he said two more things – “It is finished!” and then “Abba, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Then the Centurion who had set me free said “Truly this man is the Son of Abba”. Aaagh – I’m a son of Abba and that Son of Abba has died instead of me. I ran, and ran.
I wrote that as if I was Barabbas, with some poetic licence, because actually we are all Barabbas – were Barabbas, if you have trusted Jesus. We were Barabbas in that we were rebels, rebelling against the love and goodness of God to do our own thing. Jesus exchanged His life for ours so that we could receive forgiveness, but more than that we can come to a relationship with the Father – become sons of the Father ourselves, adopted into His family.
Today thank the Father that you are Barabbas – you were a “son of the father” who was a rebel, but Jesus has made you a son of the Father, adopted you into His family!