“The chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate replied, ‘Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’” – Mark 15:11-12.
After the trial of Jesus, Pilate—the Roman governor—presented the crowd a choice: clemency either for Jesus or a man already convicted of murder and insurrection. But the mob was already primed to put an end to Jesus. Jesus knew this and—in a sense—freely offered his life in place of Barabbas, a man who was as guilty as sin.
Rome condemned Barabbas to death; Jesus, in a sense, sentenced Barabbas to life. All this begs the following question: “I wonder what Barabbas did with the life Jesus gave him?” Did Barabbas actually live at all? And by “live,” I mean, did Barabbas embrace the spectacular possibilities that are opened up in response to salvation?
And by “salvation,” I mean actively participating in the purposes and initiatives and creative possibilities of God. This is the difference between being saved from something and being saved for something. Did Barabbas simply walk away from death by crucifixion, or did he walk into life without reservation?
Wouldn’t it have been cool if Barabbas had shown up again in the Book of Acts, that he did something positive, and transformational, and eternal with the gift of life Jesus gave him?
What difference—if any—has meeting Jesus made in my life? What about yours?
These are important questions. We can only speculate regarding how Barabbas responded to the opportunity Jesus gave him. As for us, we have the option to see how our part of the story plays out; we have the opportunity to engage life at a whole new level; we can just say that we are saved, or we can really live. “Real and eternal life,” Eugene Peterson translated Jon 10:10, “more and better life than [we] ever dreamed of.”
In love, and because love always wins. – DEREK