English Español 简体中文 Português
9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

The Gospel of Barabbas


We don’t think about Barabbas a lot, though he comes up more often at this time of year as churches turn their attention to the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. 

Here’s are the two things we know about him:

·      His name: It means “son of the father”. Some textual variants of Matthew 27:15-18 give his name as “Jesus Barabbas”.

·      His crime: He had been found guilty of starting a riot and murder. It seems likely that he was the most notorious prisoner on hand, because Pilate was trying to give the crowd an unpalatable choice.

But in Barabbas we have an amazing picture of the gospel. Put yourself in his shoes on that fateful day (Luke 23:18-25).

·      You are sitting in a Roman jail awaiting your death.  You are surely going to be crucified for your crimes against Rome. Day after day you sit in this jail, anticipating the nails, the mockery, the excruciating pain, the blood filling your lungs, the breaking of your legs.  That’s the future you have in store for you.  You don’t know when it’s coming, but it’s coming.

·      But then perhaps on this fateful day you hear a mob outside. Obviously, something is going on.  Has word gotten out that today is your day, the day for your execution?  Surely the bloodthirsty crowd is there for you.

·      And what is this that they are shouting?  “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” (Luke 23:23)  You see there in verse 23 that this went on for a while, as the crowd demanded a crucifixion with loud voices.

·      Then the Roman guard comes and gets you. He drags you up in front of the mob and… sets you free. You see Jesus stumbling off under the weight of the cross, perhaps the cross that had been constructed for your execution. This innocent man is being crucified on the trumped up charge of starting an insurrection (Luke 23:5). You, the guilty man, are being set free as if you were innocent.

What a picture of the gospel. Jesus bears our guilt and shame and curse and disgrace and death.  We receive the position that Jesus deserved; we are free and innocent of all our crimes. He gets what we deserve; we get what he deserved.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:21)

Comments   |   RSS Subscribe

Thanks Mike, great picture of what the gospel does for those of us who were once like Barabbas. Unmerited grace.

Outstanding. . . we have spent a time in rebellion but Jesus willing took our place with out complaint and instead we are set free because the punishemnt due our sin was placed on Him. To God be the the Glory and Praise for paying the price I could not pay.

Thank you. I had never considered Barabbas' position from that point of view. I plan to share this with my relatives.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.


But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yep, we all have a "criminal" past in God's eyes. Thank God for His grace, mercy and salvation.

Actually the are three things we 'know' about him... the third thing being that: there is nary a 'historical' reference concerning him, -save the theological (later-day) Holy Gospels. To my knowledge, no 'historian' has ever broached the enigmatic Jesus Barabbas or, the 'insurrection' that he is alleged to have been a principal participate therein, -despite his being portrayed as a "notorious prisoner". We make a fundamental error by assuming that the Holy Gospels are a historical depiction 'of those days', -the Holy Gospels are not history in the scientific sense of that word, -they were written solely for the purpose of instilling 'faith' only. The Holy Gospels are 'historic' only in the sense that they were written... beginning after Saul of Tarsus' epiphany (some ten years After the 'descendant of David and the Jewish mashiach' was duly crucified (for insurrection, -attempting to overthrow the secular government of the Herods and re-establish the theological governance of David (marginalized since the days of Rehoboam).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes' quip: "There is nothing so deceptive as an obvious fact."

Obviously Jesus Barabbas and Jesus Christ were Switched right in front of our (reading) eyes... and don't even think twice about it.

I comment when I appreciate a article on a blog or I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.
Usually it's a result of the sincerness displayed in the
article I read. And on this article Reply to comment | 9Marks.
I was excited enough to post a thought :) I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind.
Is it just me or does it seem like some of the responses
come across as if they are coming from brain dead folks? :
-P And, if you are writing at other social sites,
I'd like to keep up with anything fresh you have to
post. Could you list all of your communal sites like your Facebook page,
twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

Post new comment

Since commenting on a blog is an act of public communication, 9Marks encourages all commenters to use their real first and last names. Thanks!
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.