Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
The name seems to tell a tale. Bar, signifies "son;" as, Barjonah, "son of John;" and Bartholomew, "son of Tolmai;" abbas was the Greek form of the Hebrew word for "father." It looks as if the name here had, years before, been given in fond endearment to this creature when young, and that it meant "father's own boy." Perhaps there was sadness in the unfolding of the young life, and by degrees the bud of promise burst into a flower of deadly nightshade. We know nothing with certainty; but on such a subject as this the imagination will work, and we think of the "father's boy" as ruined by unwise fondness; we see the natural history of such indulgence in the indulged child becoming the sorrow of his father and the shame of his race. Whatever was the process we here see the result. Are the officers of justice looking for the hand that accomplished the last bold robbery? or that applied the match that made the last explosion? or the hand that struck the last blow in the dark? or has there been a secret muster of dangerous force, and they want to find the "head centre" of the conspiracy, and the captain of the gang? I think that in many such searchings, Barabbas was the criminal wanted. On this occasion, he had been arrested as the leader of an insurrection, and under colour of political aspirations was a convicted robber and murderer. It has even been thought by critics who are not to be slighted that this adventurer professed to be the leader of a religious as well as a political revolt, and that he arrogated to himself the title of "Messiah." "Jesus," we are told by some authorities, was one of his names, and that Pilate's question took the form, "Do you wish that I should release to you Jesus who is called the Christ, or Jesus Barabbas?" There he stands! "Dangerous" is written on his face, — robber, plotter, desperado, murderer, caught red-handed; at the sight of him horror creeps over me, my heart beats hard throbs, and the muscles of my hand stand out like cords of iron. "Jews! Turn your eyes away from this type of demonized humanity, and look at Him against whom he has been set up as rival, Jesus, the wiser than the wisest, kinder than the kindest, purer than the purest, better than the best; what say you, will you release Him?" When this appeal is made, the cry comes back, "Not this Man, but Barabbas."
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.