He [Pilate] released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder.
Scripture: Luke 23:18-25
His name was Barrabbas. For the charges of insurrection and murder, he had been arrested and put in prison. We do not know whether he was awaiting trial or had been convicted and was awaiting being sentenced. More than likely his sentence would have been death, as his actions were treasonous, and if he had murdered a Roman citizen, it too would have been a crime against the state. He thus could have been awaiting execution that might have been crucifixion. After all, if stealing was a crime punishable by death on a cross, as were the two men executed with Jesus, then surely murder would deserve the same fate.
Fortunately for Barrabbas, he had friends and supporters who were in the crowd when Pilate offered to release either Jesus or Barrabbas. It could have been dangerous to be an outspoken advocate for Barrabbas, but the people did not let fear intimidate them in asking for his release. The release of a prisoner in conjunction with the Jewish celebration of Passover had become a tradition. Certainly, since Pilate could find no reason to execute Jesus, he would have preferred to release him instead of Barrabbas. The people’s cry for the release of Barrabbas prevailed. The guilty man was released and the Innocent One, Jesus Christ was sentenced to death … death on a cross.
To my knowledge we know nothing more about Barrabbas, who escaped death then.
Was he immediately released, or did it take some time for the paperwork to be done?
Did he stick around Jerusalem after his release?
Did he witness what happened to Jesus … realizing that he could have so easily been on that cross instead of Jesus, if Jesus’ followers had outshouted his supporters?
Did he repent of his actions of murder and insurrection or was he so committed to the Jewish cause of ousting Rome’s grip on them that he continued his efforts?
Did he come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior?
Did he live the remainder of his life differently because of having narrowly escaped death?
O Divine Redeemer, we know we rightfully deserve condemnation for the sins we have committed. We also know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We give You thanks that He died on the cross that we might be dead to sin and alive to all that is good. Help us to live out our days with gratitude as we endeavor to show Your love and compassion to brothers and sisters in need. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.