Although John's gospel refers to the crowd as "the Jews," and Matthew makes an attempt to blame the Jews collectively for the choice, the question emerges as to the composition of this crowd and whom they represented. The gospels make it clear that the disciples of Jesus had all abandoned him when he was arrested, and even his chief disciple, Peter, denied him three times rather than being identified as his supporter. The insurrectionist Barabbas was thus much more likely to have disciples who were willing to risk being publicly associated with him.
This group, possibly already planning to appeal to Pilate for Barabbas' release, would have made common cause with the high priest's faction to urge Pilate to free Barabbas. Mark, thought generally to be the earliest of the gospels, reports: "The chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead of Jesus. What crime has he committed? John's gospel makes the political ramifications of the decision more clear. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.
Barabbas - New World Encyclopedia
Little if anything is known of Barabbas' life after he gained his freedom. It may be that the two men crucified with Jesus at Golgotha were among his followers. Although they are normally thought of as "thieves," crucifixion would not have been the penalty for mere robbery.
Mark's statement that "Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising," makes it likely that other Zealots besides Barabbas had been scheduled for execution. Although Barabbas himself disappears from the record, other insurrections followed. Pilate himself was clearly threatened by such events, for he was deposed by Rome for over-reacting to a Samaritan messianic outbreak a few years later. A generation later, the oppression of Rome had grown to the point where a major Jewish revolt broke out in 66 C.
In the next century, a revolt led by Simon Bar Kochba succeeded in establishing an independent Jewish state briefly, although Jerusalem itself remained in Roman hands.
In popular culture, Barabbas is variously portrayed as a patriotic rebel leader, a terrorist, or even a pseudonym for Jesus, since his name means "son of the father," and some sources indicate that his first name, like Jesus, was Yeshua. In , Anthony Quinn played the title role of Barabbas in a popular Hollywood movie. Here, Barabbas is haunted by Jesus' innocent blood being spilled in place of his, and his life is never the same. New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards.
This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Yet, wanting to avoid another revolt, which would look bad on his part, he thought he would be clever. Both he and the people knew how evil Barabbas was, so it should have been obvious that Jesus would be the easy choice to be freed.
So, Pilate obliges and frees the insurrectionist and murderer, washing his hands of any guilt in the matter. Barabbas, no longer getting the death sentence he deserved, was now a free man who could go about his way. When we look at the gospel, we are very much like Barabbas. The Bible tells us our hearts are wicked and seeking evil at all times. Not only that, but we rob God of his glory and harbor murder in our heart. Just like Barabbas, we were on death row, awaiting our penalty.
Who Was Barabbas in the Bible?
But then Jesus enters the picture. When faced with the choice between Jesus and Barabbas, it was easy for the crowd to ask for Barabbas because he was just like them.
At least Barabbas was fighting, so they thought. He was giving the people what they wanted, so he fit right in. Jesus should have been the one walking away as a free man, but it was the criminal whose trespasses were forgiven. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John the four evangelists , they are placed at the beginning of the New Testament and make up about half the total text.
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