Monday, March 25, 2013

BARABBAS by Tony Manley

(All this week, Tony will take us along on her own personal journey as she studied Jesus' last days leading up to his crucifixion.)

With Easter just on the horizon, I have intentionally wanted to “live” in the era of Jesus as best I could. To move past the flannel board story and to experience the mood, emotions, sequence of events, and basically, come away with a more grateful heart for what I have received as “the gift of God.” (Eph.2:8)

As best I can learn, Barabbas’ name is “Bar - son of” and “abbas - father (from abba),” so Barabbas is “son of the father.” William Barclay writes, “The name may be compounded of Bar-Rabban, which could mean ‘son of the father.’ Thus Bar-abbas could have been the son of a well known Rabbi or well known teacher.” Josephus – a well known Jewish historian states Barabbas was a notorious criminal before he was caught, possibly not for his crimes, but because of his family. (Not much has changed…we tend to sensationalize the sins of family members of those famous and in leadership).

Barabbas was to be crucified – put to death - for crimes of murder and insurrection. This word insurrection means “leading a rebellion against the authorities.” It is said he was housed with the other insurrectionists (think other men crucified with Jesus), and therefore, the very cross Jesus was crucified on was meant for Barabbas. Jesus’ crucifixion, we learn, was carried out on the day Barabbas would have been taken with the other two men. Barabbas was imprisoned in a place close enough to have heard an angry mob shouting his name and the phrase “crucify him,” but not close enough to have heard the questions to those answers. Which meant when he heard the footsteps coming toward his cell, he would have known the door that opened, opened to his walk of death. But unexpectedly and definitely undeservedly, the door swung open to his freedom and his being given the gift of life. 

After reading and coming across more information about the details of Barabbas, I have come to realize I am Barabbas. I was born in rebellion to my Father’s authority. This would mean I too am an insurrectionist. I am guilty of murder in my insurrection. (Doesn’t scripture teach “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in Him.” 1 John 3:15) I was condemned to death and awaiting my sentence to be carried out, when unexpectedly my heart’s door was opened to being released to new life and freedom. Just as Barabbas received pardon and freedom (this treatment which I have never appreciated), I was given the same gift from the same innocent Man. The same Man who willingly took the cross of this one who murdered and rebelled (born to and willingly).

As I finished Barabbas’ story and as I live my story, I am left with a couple of penetrating questions. Did Barabbas stay and watch the events of his interrupted crucifixion? Did his life change or did he go back to business as usual in his lifestyle? Did he grasp the gift of life and freedom or as time went on, take for granted what the Innocent Man gave to him through His death? Did he even know about the resurrection and did he believe? I am Barabbas. I want to testify to the new life and freedom I received because of the willingness of Christ to take my cross and sin so that I have forgiveness and eternal life in oneness with the Father. His Father. (The answer to Jesus’ very prayer in John 17:21 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”)

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe…”  

“But He was pierced for our/my transgressions, He was crushed for our/my iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we/I are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5)


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