Whatever Happened to Barabbas?

Whatever happened to Barabbas?

We know a few things from reading the Gospels, but very little about what happened prior to or after his release. Barabbas is mentioned in all four of the New Testament gospels: Matthew 27:15–26Mark 15:6–15Luke 23:18–24; and John 18:40. His life intersects that of Christ at the trial of Jesus.

Barabbas was a felon. A criminal charged with insurrection and murder. But here stands Jesus, an innocent man, before Pontius Pilate (the Roman Governor) awaiting his fate. Pilate knew the whole thing was a sham – a set up “out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him” (Mark 15:10).

The release of a Jewish prisoner was customary before the feast of Passover. The Roman governor granted clemency to one criminal as an act of goodwill toward the Jews whom he governed. The choice Pilate set before them could not have been more clear-cut: a high-profile killer and rabble-rouser who was unquestionably guilty, or a teacher and miracle-worker who was demonstrably innocent. The crowd chose Barabbas to be released.

The story of Barabbas and his release from condemnation is the story of all believers. We stood guilty before God and deserving of death, only to rescued by a gracious and loving God who created each of us in His own image. Then due to no influence of our own, Jesus chose to die instead. We, like Barabbas, were set free from sin and death.

What happened to Barabbas after his release? The Bible gives no clue, and secular history does not help. Did he go back to his life of crime? Was he grateful? Did he stand at the foot of the cross in witness of what Jesus suffered? Did he eventually become a Christian? Was he affected at all by the prisoner exchange? No one knows. But the choices available to Barabbas are available to us all: surrender to God in grateful acknowledgment of what Christ has done for us, or spurn the gift and continue living apart from the Lord.

It’s a decision that has eternal implications. Choose this day who you will serve. As for me and my household, as Joshua proclaimed – We will serve the Lord.



More Posts

God Our Refuge

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing” – Martin Luther, ca. 1527