By looking at the scriptures, I think we will find two reasons why the people chose to release Barabbas instead of Jesus.  It was because of their LOVE for Barabbas and their HATE for the Lord Jesus.  Let’s see what the Word says about this man. 

We know that Barabbas was a convicted robber. (John 18:40).  Barabbas was also a murderer and a revolutionary as we read in Mark 15:7, “And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.” 

It was at this time of the Passover that it was custom for the governor to release a prisoner. (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6; John 18:39).  Matthew 27:21 tells us that Pontius Pilate asked, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.” Why do you suppose the people chose Barabbas to be released, among all the prisoners in the prison?  Matthew 27:16 tells us that Barabbas was a “notable prisoner.”  Considering his activities in an insurrection against Rome, I can imagine that he was a hero to many. 

Where did the idea to choose Barabbas begin with?  “But the CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.” (Matthew 27:20). (Read also Mark 15:11).  It was the religious leaders that persuaded the people to call for the freedom of Barabbas over the freedom of the Lord Jesus.  It seems the people happily went along with the desires of the chief priests and elders.  So bold and loud were their cries we see in Matthew 27:25, “Then answered all the people, and said, HIS BLOOD BE ON US and on our children.”  In their zeal to release Barabbas, they called for the guilt of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus to be upon them and their ancestors. Remarkably, in a very short time after that, we read of the high priest saying to Peter, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and INTEND TO BRING THIS MAN’S BLOOD UPON US.” (Acts 5:28). 

In reality, these people chose to have a convicted thief and murderer in their midst rather than the very Son of God.  They “denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you.” (Acts 3:14).  They chose Barabbas, who had taken people’s lives over the Lord Jesus who came to save our lives.  Why?  Because, “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). 

Just for a moment, let’s try to envision Barabbas in his cell where he awaits execution. He hears the cries of the people, “Crucify Him.  Crucify Him.”  The jailer suddenly opens Barabbas’s cell door, and he is told that he is free to go.  What joy!  What relief!  This convicted felon is set free from the penalty of his crimes.  I wonder if he ever thought, “Jesus took my place on that cross”?  Christ did indeed take his place and this guilty criminal was set free.  Through no merits of his own, Barabbas was set free!

What about you, dear reader?  Have you ever considered that Christ died on the cross to set you free?  Make no mistake, the Lord Jesus went to that cross willingly so that He might suffer, shed His precious blood, and die for you.  Just like Barabbas, you are a guilty sinner, deserving of death. (Romans 3:23).  Yet, the Lord has a gift for you…a free gift.  He wants to set you free from the death you deserve.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Will you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior and receive that gift of eternal life?  Salvation is there for you to receive if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus.  (CC)  (498.2)