‘Son of the Father’ signifies those ransomed in Christ
by Peter Benyola
The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, by which we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.
The convicted murderer sits somberly in his dark and dirty cell, surrounded by Roman guards. Trembling, he can only imagine how much he will suffer by crucifixion, the popular form of execution during this period in history. He has seen the full force of Roman justice as he walked the roads of Galilee and Judea, colluding with other rebels willing to fight against the Roman occupation. The Jews hated being in subjection to the Roman Empire, but most kept their heads down while few were willing to fight back, such as Barabbas. This time, the Romans had actually caught their man and sentenced him to be executed on the crucifix.
The Romans were notorious for how they lined their highways with crucifices — their method of deterring would-be enemies of the State from further resisting their control over the region and its people. This slow and extremely painful death was specifically fashioned to torture criminals for as long as three days. Rebels who were made an example in this manner usually asphyxiated, unable to even lift their chests to breathe. The agony of crucifixion was so intense that it produced the word “excruciating,” which derives from the Latin word for “torment” or “crucify,” which itself is derived from the word “crux,” or cross.
Knowing what is coming in the next few days, how can this criminal sleep?
The name provided for him is Barabbas, which means “the son of the father.” We know him as the man who was pardoned by Pilate on the day of Passover in A.D. 33, allowing him to evade his earned appointment with the stake.
As Pontius Pilate, the praefectus or governor of Judea, finishes interrogating Jesus, he can find no reason to convict Him. As he sits in the judge’s seat, Pilate’s wife sends a message alerting him to a disturbing dream she has had about this innocent man. Moreover, Pilate has deduced that the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish leaders, are envious of Jesus’ popularity and deem him a threat to their positions of authority. To placate the demanding cabal — and save himself from a political entanglement should the Sanhedrin decide to appeal to Caesar — Pilate is willing to shed the blood of Jesus as a scapegoat and release Barabbas from custody.
(Mark 15:6-15) “Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ And they cried out again, ‘Crucify him.’ And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him.’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”