For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man (Barabbas) who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (Luke 23:22-25)
Three times Pilate declares Jesus’ innocence. In the Bible the number three means holy perfection from God (the trinity, three gifts of the magi, three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and even Peter denying he knew Jesus three times. Pilate agrees to flog Jesus and give him back to the Jewish leaders but that wasn’t enough for the angry crowd. You don’t have to go any further than the United States to know mobs of dissidents influence history. But the deep meaning here is the connection between Jesus and Barabbas.
According to www.britannica.com Barabbas, in Aramaic, means son of the father (bar abba) or son of the teacher (bar abban); both apply to Jesus. Imagine what happens next because Luke skips beyond this scene’s finish. Barabbas is a social activist and murderer waiting on death row for execution. When the guards open the door to seize him, I imagine his cellmates saying, “Bye Barabbas. Hope you don’t burn in hell.”
Perhaps the guards let Barabbas wonder why they’ve seized him until they’ve dragged him outside the jail. For a moment, he locks eyes with Jesus. Jesus nods and the guards release their hold on Barabbas and say, “You’re free.” The guards walk to Jesus and grab Him from the temple guards. The Son of the Father/Teacher trades places with the son of the father/teacher, the Son of Man trades places with the son of a man. Jesus takes our place, the innocent for the guilty.
Father God, I’m so thankful you sent Jesus to take my sins to the cross with Him. Like Barabbas I’m no longer imprisoned with guilt. I’m free! With the power of the Holy Spirit I can finish this walk to the cross with Jesus and do Your will with what I’ve learned in the process. In Christ’s name I pray, amen