AN AMAZING FACT: According to early Greek manuscripts, the full name of Barabbas, the prisoner who was released instead of Jesus, was actually Jesus Barabbas.
The story of Barabbas is an interesting one. The Gospel accounts explain how Pontius Pilate gave the Jewish people the choice of releasing Jesus or Barabbas. Sadly, the people called for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified.
Barabbas was a notorious prisoner who had caused insurrection in Jerusalem, ultimately committing murder. He was a hardened criminal. Yet what is perhaps most interesting about him is his name. According to the early Greek manuscripts of Matthew 27:16, his first name was also “Jesus,” which, in Hebrew, means “the Lord saves.” Furthermore, the name “Barabbas” means “son of the father” in Aramaic.
So the Jewish people were faced with a choice between two saviors. They could choose Jesus Christ or Jesus “son of the father.” The first Jesus came to give eternal salvation, achieved by grace through faith. The second Jesus came pursuing earthly salvation, achieved by violence.
At the heart of the choice between the two was an understanding of what the character of the heavenly Father really is. Either He is a God of vengeance who takes life, or He is a God of love that gives life. And so the Jewish people chose to reflect their understanding of Him and took life.
Yet in their act of taking life, Christ was able to give life.
Of course, it wasn’t them alone who chose to take Christ’s life. All who have sinned have ultimately chosen Jesus Barabbas. But we can start afresh today and choose the life of Christ over the life of Barabbas.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; Joshua 24:16