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Mark 256 - Barabbas




Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.


Mark 15:6-8


In the middle of this historical account about the arrest of Jesus, we’re told about a little-known, local custom at the festival to release a prisoner. But the selection of the prisoner wasn’t made by the Romans, or even the political or religious leaders of the Jews. No, the selection was made by “the people.”


The person selected wasn’t the most deserving, or even restoring the freedom of the most abused and unfair arrest. No, this was nothing more than a popularity contest. Plain and simple.


And who’s available in jail to be chosen against Jesus? No one other than Barabbas. Look at his resume.


  • Notorious prisoner – Matthew 27:16

  • Murderer in an uprising – Mark 15:7

  • Prisoner for an insurrection and murder – Luke 23:19

  • Robber – John 18:40


That was some impressive list of accomplishments. I won’t waste your time in trying to compare Jesus to Barabbas. But it was this background that Jesus was to be compared with.


There wasn’t anything fair about it. It should’ve been a slam dunk for Jesus. After all, just a few days earlier he had been welcomed into the city like a king[1]. People took off their outer cloaks and spread them on the ground for Jesus and the colt he was riding to walk over.


Now I don’t mind telling you that I don’t think I would’ve put my clothes on the ground for a colt to walk over. Cut branches down and let the colt walk on that sounds a whole lot better to me than the possibility of the colt “doing its business” on my cloths. I really don’t like it when I step into our dogs “business.” So, the possibility of getting it on my clothes is way out of my comfort zone.


It’s important to see that Jesus doesn’t appear to be in control of the circumstances. He doesn’t have any “strings to pull” to get the crowd to vote his way. He doesn’t send out anything on social media to get people to vote his way. He doesn’t offer to reward people for their completing a survey. As a matter of fact, he has no access to people. He’s a prisoner.


Does this remind you of a time in your life? A set of circumstances when it seemed like everyone and everything you knew were against you. Everything was piled up high against you.


It seemed like there was no way out. Every way you turned; the roads were blocked. There was no way around or over. Your so-called friends were all lined up against you. Circumstances, family, boss, coworkers, neighbors, even the authorities were all on one side and there was no one on the other side. No one on your side except you.


In a sense, Jesus is stuck in a literal dead end. There’s no way out. There are no options. No matter which way you look, this is not going to turn out well for Jesus.


Yes, he is fully God, but he is also fully man. This is vitally important to realize and believe because when life falls apart (and it will,) Jesus knows exactly what you’re going through. And because he does, we have hope.


Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


Hebrews 4:16


God is so powerful that he can take the worst possible situations and circumstances and turn them into something good. Riley Clemons[2] song, For The Good, says it better than I ever could.


Who can bend my burdens, And make them beautiful?

Who can bring the healing, To the hurt I hold?

Who else could part the waters, When I'm needing a way?

Though I'm walking through the valley, I'll believe when You say


Lord, Your ways are higher, You know Your plans for me

You give purpose and a future, Even when I can't see

So, I will pray through every heartache, I will cling to this faith

Though I'm walking through the valley, I'll believe when You say


For the good, for the good, You work all things together

For the good, for the good, Your promise stands forever

You alone are my greatest hope, I trust You on the broken road

You work all things together like only You could, For the good


God can take and use a guy like Barabbas for the good. So, let’s take our pain, disappointment, fear, anger, anguish, and turn them over to Jesus “For the Good.”

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+11%3A8-10&version=NIV [2] https://youtu.be/O7oNir0VmTU

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