Chapter 47

Anyone’s son-Barabbas
Mark 15:6-15 (NKJV)


6 Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. 8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. 12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” 14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”

15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.


Mark 15:6-10

Barabbas, a notorious prisoner, is chained with his fellow rebels, probably including the two criminals soon to be crucified on each side of Jesus’ cross. Together they had committed murder in the rebellion. A strange and unjust custom obliges the Roman governor, here Pilate, to release at the Feast whichever prisoner the public request. Pilate wants to release Jesus, whom he openly calls the King of the Jews. He knows that it is in envy that the chief priest wants Jesus killed. Pilate sees a potential ideal dual solution: deserved release for an innocent Man, and his own image enhanced, by pleasing the crowd. Will it work?

Contrast Barabbas with Jesus. Jesus never sinned. He always lived a righteous God-pleasing life, radiating holiness and loving compassion for everyone, even enemies.[1] Although a historical character, Barabbas pictures every human being. Bar means ‘son of’ and abbas means ‘father’. He is the son, or child, of his father. So are we all! We are also the children of humanity’s first father, Adam, and inherit his sinful nature. Because of God’s grace, in sending His own spotless Son to die for us, we can become children of God by receiving Christ in our hearts. John 1:12 declares, as many as received Him, to them He gave the right[2] to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. Verse 13 teaches that they are not accepted because of their parents, or their own efforts, or some man-made religious plan. In receiving Christ by faith as their living Saviour they are born of God.[3] Having been born again, they receive God’s forgiveness and a new nature.[4] They will never be the same again! Even a hardened sinner like Barabbas can become a child of God through turning from his sin and trusting Jesus personally to forgive him!

Mark 15:11-14
The wickedly wrong choice

The enormously influential rabble-rousing chief priests stir up the crowd to demand that Pilate frees Barabbas. Pilate, now reduced to pleading for Jesus, hears the orchestrated crowd’s repeated and evil cry for Jesus’ blood—Crucify Him! One hymn says ‘a murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay.’ Jesus will die for sinners.

Mark 15:15
‘I’d say it should be me there’

Pilate weakens under pressure. He releases Barabbas, scourges Jesus, and sends Him to be crucified, flanked by Barabbas’ criminal friends. I showed an artist’s impression of the crucifixion to a London prison congregation. The artist imagined recently released Barabbas, watching from the crowd as Jesus dies in his place. I asked how my listeners would feel in Barabbas’ place, seeing Jesus die flanked by his gang members. One inmate said quietly and respectfully, ‘I’d say it should be me there.’

He was right. When you know Jesus as your Saviour, you realise He bore your sins and punishment for them when He died for you on the cross. Would you now say, ‘it should be me there’? The Christian is so grateful that Jesus is the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.[5]



[1]   .  Hebrews 7:26.
[2]   .  The word ‘right’ is translated ‘power’ in the AV, and carries the sense of ‘authority’.
[3]   .  John 1:12-13.
[4]   .  2 Corinthians 5:17.
[5]   .  Galatians 2:20.


Questions on Chapter 47
Mark 15:6-15 Anyone’s son-Barabbas.

A. Who is Barabbas? Why is he being set free?   Mark 15:7   Mark 15:6, 8, 11, 15 Luke 23:18-25  John 18:39-40 Matthew 27:15-18

B. Who orchestrates the vicious opposition against Jesus?   Does being a religious leader mean that the person concerned automatically knows God in his life?   Mark 15:9-11    John 3:1-21

C. If after his release Barabbas did see Jesus dying between his two dying criminal friends, what thought would have struck him most? Do you see Jesus dying on the cross personally for you?   Romans 7:24   Luke 18:13   Romans 5:8   Galatians 2:20

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