All four Gospels mention individuals whose lives were changed in some way by a brief encounter with Jesus. Barabbas is such a person who was able to experience this grace in a very special way.

Barabbas was a notorious criminal, a murderer. He is arrested and captured at the same time as Jesus.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Israel, always released a prisoner during Passover (Passover is the Jewish Passover festival, also called the spring festival, freedom festival or matzo festival. It is one of the most important festivals in Judaism) and let the people choose him. According to John this was a custom of the Jews. Therefore, Pilate gave the gathered crowd the choice of releasing Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd was incited by the chief priests and voted en masse for the release of Barabbas, after which Jesus was crucified.

Barabbas was now a free man. He deserved the death penalty and he knew it. When he was taken from his cell, he probably thought he was about to be crucified. But things turned out very differently, because he was released. How stunned and happy he must have been. And he, a criminal, was now a free man. Who can comprehend such contradictions?

And thus Barabbas has become an illustration of every person who has come to know himself as a sinner and who knows by faith that Jesus bore his guilt on the cross.