Now we come to an unusual story, one that concerns a new individual Barabbas. Every year, at Passover, Pilate would free a prisoner whom the people would choose. That year, Pilate gave them the choice between Yeshua or Barabbas; they chose to free Barabbas. This is not the same Barabbas as the movie starring Anthony Quinn. That was a great movie, because at the end, this Barabbas meets Peter and becomes a believer. I wish this were true in the Scriptures, but the biblical text says nothing of the sort. The Scriptures however, do give a lot of room for this story; from vs.6-15. There must be a reason behind this, especially that in the text, there is a definite article in front of his name: it is the Barabbas. And he is mentioned in all 4 Gospels.
Who then is Barabbas? Notice one thing; he has the same name as Yeshua. Barabbas in Aramaic means Son/Bar and Abba/Father, so it is the son of the father, as Yeshua is the Son of His Father, the Son of God. Furthermore, we are told by Origen, the 2nd century theologian, that Barabbas’ first name was Jesus. So, in the ears of the first century person, his name was Jesus, son of the father, the same name as our Yeshua. And here we find another Jesus and another father who is favored instead of the real One.
But the people did not know. They were misled by their own teachers, the priests who, according to vs.11 were stirring up the crowd to ask Pilate to release Barabbas instead. And this problem of ignorance has not stopped. How many from among the Jews today know the Messiah of Israel in the way He is depicted in the Scriptures? And who today knows the Jesus of the New Testament the way the Word truly reveals Him to be? Remember what 2Corinthians 11:4 says, that there are many Jesus’, many Gospels, many spirits, many Barabbas’ having the same name as the King of the Jews but they are no king at all.
Barabbas’ true antitype however is still to come. The presence of this individual also has a long-range prophetic aspect; he is a type of the antichrist, whom the world will choose, counterfeiting the role of the true King of this world.
We remember what Yeshua said in John 5:43, I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. The final Barabbas, the antichrist is this other one who is to come on the world scene. Many will be asked to make the choice. Who then do you choose, Barabbas or Yeshua?
Let us move on to what is perhaps the most poignant and moving part of the life of the Messiah; how He suffered for us. The account of Barabbas ends in vs.15 with these words: Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. Notice the two words, scrouged and crucified.
This is when we begin to consider how much the Lord suffered for us.
These two words, scourged and crucified brought such an image of cruel and inhuman suffering that some complained that there is not much mention of these types of torture in history, and this is surely because historians must have avoided speaking about such barbaric suffering and deaths. But a few gave us some information.
At the scourging, called flagella in the Greek, the man was stripped and bent over with his hands tied to a pole and beaten with a whip of nine leather straps. The whip had thongs knotted at regular intervals attached with sharp objects like pieces of iron or bone. The whip was administered to the whole body until the skin hung in bloody strips and one’s bones lay bare. After the scourging the man was unrecognizable.
And this is what Yeshua went through for us. There we can understand the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5, He was crushed for our iniquities; and he adds: The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. It was all for us. This we need to know.
By this time, the person was in so much pain, they often died from the abuse, but Yeshua held strong. His goal and purpose was to die on the Tav, as prophesied, however, he was so weak that we learn in vs.21, they called an individual, Simon of Cyrene, to carry His Tav. Later, this Simon and his sons became believers as well.
As for the crucifixion, it was a horrible way to die. The crucifixion was described by those who witnessed it, as the worst extremes of tortures inflicted upon man. This is how Cicero, a Roman philosopher from the first century BC described it. They used 35 centimeter or 14-inch spikes to nail the Messiah on the cross through His hands and feet and then the body was raised. By this point, every slight movement became so painful. But this was only the beginning, for the most excruciating part of it all, was when, during 3 hours of darkness, He took all the sins of the world unto himself. This we cannot understand, we cannot ever fathom the extreme pain of the Holy One receiving all the evil of the world. We need to meditate on His incredible goodness to us.