Trial of 2 Jesus'
In the time of Jesus’ earthly life, Rome was occupying Israel and many were eagerly looking for someone to set Israel free from Roman rule. Some were even looking for the Messiah to arise, and build an army to overthrow their oppressors and establish a new government in its place. There was a difficult and delicate balance that the Jewish rulers and the officials of Rome worked to maintain. The Jewish religious elite worked to maintain the status quo that saw them firmly seated at the top of Jewish society. The empire of Rome was determined to maintain an iron grip on Israel and made use of the Jewish religious elite.
During this time, there were many underground Jews working against the Roman Empire, and many resorted to violence and murder. Perhaps the most well-known of the was Barabbas, a man described in the 4 gospels as a notorious criminal, robber, insurrectionist, and murderer.
Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea needed to keep the emperor happy and his constituents in-line. Pilate was busy stamping out the fires of revolution in Judea, and now the religious leaders were up in arms about a miracle worker named Jesus whom they accused of blasphemy. It was a tense time throughout Judea.
After questioning Jesus, Pilate could find no fault and was eager to release him, but also needed to quell the unrest in the region he administered for the Emperor of Rome.
It was common practice during this time for the governor of Judea to release a prisoner during the Passover feast. According to scripture, Pilate offered the people with a choice between two prisoners, Barabbas and Jesus.
What’s very interesting here though, is that many scholars and even some Biblical manuscripts and translations list Barabbas’ full name as Jesus Barabbas. If this is the case, Pilate may have been giving the crowd what he thought to be an easy choice between two Jesus’ – one a notorious criminal, and one a man he felt was obviously innocent of any crime.
This comparison between the two Jesus’ becomes even more significant when we look at the meaning of the name Barabbas. This name translates to, ‘Son of the father’!
Essentially, the crowd had a choice between one Jesus Son of the father who was a guilty, murderous criminal, and Jesus Son of the Father who was sinless and innocent, a man known to have fed and healed many. What an incredible choice to have set before you! The choice was between sinner and sinless. They chose the sinner, Barabbas, to go free and nailed the sinless to the cross. The shameful guilt of that choice does not rest on the crowd alone, but with all of us as well. Our choice to sin makes us just as guilty of sending our Savior to the cross as this crowd in ancient Judea!
Thankfully though, this tragedy was turned to triumph on the third day with the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Through the Blood of Jesus, slain at the cross and resurrected to eternal life, those who believe in Him are acquitted, justified, and forgiven! We have been called from darkness into light, from death into everlasting life! We have salvation!