Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Mark 15: 7, 11-13
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
God is very strategic and specific in choosing those who will fulfill His will, even down to their very names. A person’s name denotes his character and his purpose. The name Moses, for example, means “drawn out”. Moses was drawn out from the river Nile as a baby, but God also used him to draw out the Israelites from Egypt. Later, the people of Israel desired a king so they could be like other nations. God gave them a king by the name of Saul. Saul’s name means ….desired!
In Jesus' day it was customary for the Romans to release a Jewish prisoner during the Passover festival, and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate tried to use this custom as an excuse to release Jesus. But the crowd in the courtyard demanded that Barabbas be freed instead. Thus Barabbas was released, and Jesus was crucified.
The above Scripture indicates that Barabbas had participated in the rebellion. This was most likely the Jewish rebellion against the controlling Roman system. Incidentally, the name “Roman” means strength. So, in essence, Barabbas was among those who were resisting the strength of that day. Matthew’s gospel describes him as a notable prisoner, so this Barabbas was a man who was well known among the people.
Barabbas was the chief priests’ choice because his release would ensure their continued comfort. They knew that Jesus would bring change that they were not willing to submit to. They were most interested in status, physical well-being and financial gain, all the while performing religious rituals of the day. They were not willing to change their hearts and minds, so they enticed the crowd to ask for Barabbas’ freedom. The unsuspecting crowd followed the loudest and most influential voices of the chief priests and their henchmen.
Jesus, too, was well known, and some of the Jews considered Him to be the one who would free them from Roman control, so to many He was a political savior. The name Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation”. But He always talked about His Father, so we know that He was, and still is, the Son of the Father.
Picture the scene that day. Pilate stands on a platform above the courtyard which is filled with a large crowd of people. On one side of Him stands Jesus – the Son of the Father. On the other side stands Barabbas whose name means..... “son of the father”!
Unknowingly the people were being asked which son they would choose – the murderous son of the father, or the true Son of the Father who came to give eternal life.
Whom do you choose?
Note: here are some of the names (and meanings) of today's world leaders…
President of the United StatesBarack: lightning; blessing
Hussein: virtuous, attractive
Obama: crooked, slightly bending
President of CanadaNicholas: victory of the people
Sarkozy: (several possible meanings) – prince of darkness; dweller of a place where a fire occurred; between the mud and the river.
Chancellor of GermanyAngela: messenger
Merkel: name derived from a mark in Germany which was “an immense inhospitable forest wilderness”
Prime Minister of ItalySilvio: wood, forest
Berlusconi: (meaning unknown)
Prime Minister of Great BritainGordon: great hill
President of RussiaDmitry: earth mother
Prime Minister of IsraelBenjamin: son of my right hand
Netanyahu: gift of God