It’s important to take some time to meditate on Christ’s passion and death, especially as we draw closer to Easter. (Check out this post if you want to see a few ways to do so.) In my own reflection, there’s one character in the passion that has stood out for me: Barabbas.
As we all know, Christ was brought before Pilate who had the power to release Him or put Him to death.
“Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called [Jesus] Barabbas.” Mt 27:15-16
We learn from the other Gospels that Barabbas was a revolutionary who committed murder in a rebellion. It goes without saying, he doesn’t seem to be a high standing member of society. But, the high priests stir the crowd to demand Barabbas, Pilate caves, releases Barabbas, and we know the rest of the story.
I think there’s some symbolism here that’s relevant to our lives. Throughout the whole trial of Jesus, people seem to miss what’s right in front of them.
For one, at the beginning of this trial, Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” When Christ, Truth Himself, is standing right in front of him. “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jn 14:6
Second, the high priests want Jesus killed so badly, that they would welcome a murderer back into society. In the movie, the Passion of the Christ, there’s a telling moment when Barabbas is released and walks past the high priest who returns a look of disgust. Almost like they forgot that condemning Christ meant Barabbas would actually walk free among them.
And finally, the name Barabbas ironically means “son of the father” in Aramaic. But, he’s the wrong one. The true Son of the Father is put to death at the demands of the people.
As we move closer to Holy Week, let’s ask ourselves: What are we choosing over Christ? Who or what are we welcoming into our homes? Where are we ignoring the Truth in our lives?