Matthew 27:26 (NIV)
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Matthew 27:15-16 (HCSB)
15 At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted.
16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. (Some ancient manuscripts have the name as Jesus bar Abbas).
The ancient manuscripts include the full name of Barabbas. It is very interesting to see that the meaning of Jesus bar Abbas translates as Jesus, son of the Father. Jesus the messiah takes the place of a son of the Father who had strayed. How so otherworldly for this transaction to take place. The one guilty son was exchanged for the pure and spotless son.
Here in this very brief record of the crowd calling for the release of Jesus bar Abbas and have Jesus, the Messiah take his place is the perfect picture of the gospel for us.
We were the ones who had run from God. We were the ones who had rebelled all our life. We were the ones that rightly deserved death but just as our sentenced was being read we hear the crowd shout, “Release Barababbas and crucify the Messiah.”
It had to be this way for we could be saved no other way. We must needs have someone who is perfectly righteous take our place to pay the penalty for our sins. So the crowd cried out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
God had his way even when the crowd cried out for his Son to be crucified. The demons and devils of hell could not have seen this coming, they were behind the voices in the crowd calling for Jesus, the Messiah’s crucifixion. They surely thought this would be the end of him.
But they could not see the mystery hidden since the beginning of time. It would be a perfect man that would take the place of sinful humanity that would bring about the perfect redemption of all those who will ever trust in Christ.
We need not fear the voices of any crowd from now on for, if the voices of this crowd that demanded the crucifixion of our Savior were used by God to accomplish our great redemption, then no voice or voices that would ever cry out against us can defeat us.
The cross turns every shout of condemnation into the very ground of our redemption. Hallelujah for the cross.