The chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?”
They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:11-15
Here’s an interesting question that came out of one of my men’s group conversations this week. “I wonder what Barabbas did with the life Jesus gave him?”
I’m talking about the trial of Jesus. Pilate – the Roman governor – presented the crowd with the choice of granting clemency to either Jesus or to a man already convicted of murder and insurrection.
Even so, it wasn’t a real choice, because the mob was already predisposed to put an end to Jesus. Jesus knew this and – in a sense – freely offered his innocent life in place of Barabbas – a man who was as guilty as sin.
“Barabbas would be the first sinner,” Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton writes, “for whom Jesus died.”
Rome gave Barabbas a death sentence; Jesus, in a sense, sentenced Barabbas to life. But did he receive it?
What did he do with that gift of life?
All this begs the following question: “I wonder what Barabbas did with the life Jesus gave him?”
Did Barabbas actually live at all? And by “live” I mean did Barabbas embrace the spectacular possibilities that are opened up in response to salvation? “Real and eternal life,” Eugene Peterson translates John 10:10, “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
And by “salvation,” I mean actively participating in the purposes and initiatives and creative possibilities of God.
This is the difference between being saved from something and being saved for something. So did Barabbas simply walk away from death by crucifixion, or did he walk into life without reservation?
Wouldn’t it have been cool if Barabbas had showed up again in the Book of Acts? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to know that he did something positive, and transformational, and eternal with the gift of life Jesus gave him?
What difference – if any – has meeting Jesus made in my life? What about yours?
These are important questions. Remember the discussion we already had around the idea of a “transactional” understanding of Gospel versus a “relational” understanding (Love is Never Transactional)?
We can only speculate regarding how Barabbas responded to the opportunity Jesus gave him. As for us, we have the option to see how our part of the story plays out; we have the opportunity to engage life at a whole new level; we can either say we are saved… or we can really live – real and eternal life, more and better life than [we] ever dreamed of.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.