Barabbas [Bārăb'bas]—son of a father or son of return. The notable prisoner, committed to prison for robbery and murder, but preferred to Christ (Matt. 27:16-26).
Barabbas should have died for his crimes but Jesus occupied his cross, along with the two other thieves. What a night Barabbas must have spent before Christ was selected in his place! The thief and murderer had visions of a terrible death. All the torture of crucifixion came up before him. Then as the light of morning looked in through the bars of his prison he hears the march of soldiers coming to take him out to his horrible death.
Can we not imagine how stupefied he must have been when he heard the officer of the guard say, “Barabbas you are free. Another is to die in your stead”? When Barabbas came to himself and realized how true the news was, out he went, grateful to the One condemned to die as his substitute. A just and holy Man to die in the place of a thief and murderer? Yes, Barabbas was saved at such a cost. What a picture of divine grace this substitutionary death presents! Thereafter, whenever Barabbas thought of Christ, he could say, “He died for me.”