And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Barabbas is often cast as a villain in the crucifixion story. This man who had done such terrible things was released so the Pharisees could have their way with Jesus. But the truth is, we are Barabbas in a very real sense. He is the personification of every sinner whose life was exchanged for Christ’s. After all, Jesus took Barabbas’ place on the cross, and He took our place by dying for our sins.
What a stark illustration of what Jesus’ death truly meant. The release of a sinner in exchange for the sinless Son of God. One man freed from prison and another condemned to die in his place. One man who should have died given new life, while one who did no wrong bore all the pain and suffering. It was no accident that an exchange was made. It was not a mistake that Jesus was actually put to death and shed His blood. In the end, it was God’s plan fulfilled in His way and His time.
No more mention is made in the Bible of Barabbas after he was released from death row. But like everyone, there were only two paths he could have taken—either accepting Jesus or rejecting Him. It could be that his experience of coming so close to death himself and then being spared caused him to turn his life around and seek after righteousness. Or he could have been thankful he got away with his crimes and went on to commit more.
The same decision is ours to make. After realizing we’ve been spared from a deserved death, will we bow in grateful obedience to God? Will we submit to Him as our Lord and Savior and turn from our wicked ways? Or will we callously continue on in our sins? Jesus literally died for us. He suffered immeasurably in our place. And now He draws us to Himself. Will we go to Him or turn our backs?
Even after we have made the decision to accept Christ as Savior, we must choose daily to surrender to Him. We should meditate often on the finished work of Christ, the exchange that was made. When we realize truly that it was we who deserved to suffer in all those horrible ways that Jesus did, perhaps we will desire in our hearts to serve Him more fervently, to witness more boldly, and to surrender more completely to our Lord. We were set free, given new life. So let’s use our lives to serve Him.