Barabbas signifies each of us as individuals, “the sons of our dear Father” who failed to live up to the standard of the Son of Man, and were granted undeserved pardon. Those of us who are born again bear that title of “sons and daughters.” When Jesus, our Elder Brother, stepped up to be crucified for us — though He should have been the one exonerated, having committed no crime — the Father also released the rest of His children who call upon the name of Jesus and accept His sacrifice in our stead. As Barabbas walked out of his cell as a free man, Jesus took the place of the prisoners out of love, so we could walk.

IMG_20141209_235149Because of the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus, the true Son of His Father, the iron bonds have been broken from us, and we are loosed as free citizens of the Kingdom. His sacrifice and resurrection make it possible for God to impute His righteousness to us, justify us in His sight, adopt us into the family in which Jesus is the firstborn, and entrust us with His Spirit, which guarantees our inheritance of the spoils of His earthly conquest.

When Passover time comes and we eat the bread representing His body broken for us, and drink the wine signifying His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins, let’s remember who we are and who He is. In light of what we’ve learned here, we can offer even more gratitude for Jesus and the freedom He has given to each of us (Luke 4:18).

Did Barabbas reform his ways after Jesus took his place? The Scriptures don’t tell us, but they do say that those whom the Lord has saved for Himself will necessarily abstain from transgression (II Timothy 2:19). Because of the Pactum Salutis, or covenant of redemption between the Father and Son which they together ratified undeservedly for our sake, Apostle Paul instructs that “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

He brought me love that only He could give, 
I brought Him cause to cry.
And though He taught me how to live,
I taught Him how to die.
And I’m the one to blame, 
I caused all the pain.
He gave Himself the day He wore my crown.
(Phil Johnson, 1978)


Further study

Our Suffering Substitute, Charles Spurgeon

What Did The Cross Achieve?: The Logic of Penal Substitution, J.I. Packer

The Judicial and Substitutionary Nature of Salvation, Greg Bahnsen

Blood Work, Anthony J. Carter

The Judgment of Pilate, R.C. Sproul

In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement, J. I. Packer and Mark Dever

Easter, systematic theology

One thought on “We are Barabbas

  1. Very well done brother. God has gifted you in a special way and I hope that you will be able to continue this ministry. This article was a reminder to me that I am Barabbas and that Roman soldier that drove the nails in His hands. I am unworthy of Christ’s love and how grateful I should be for God’s unspeakable gift!

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