As it was the custom at the time, the political powers would present the crowd two prisoners to chose from. One would be set free of all charges against him. The other one would be condemned. This time one of them was falsely accused with fabricated arguments, while his counterpart was guilty on all counts.
Passover was full of excitement from the many travelers coming to celebrate the mandatory feast ordained by Moses. This time however, the crowd in Jerusalem was conversing about a man who stirred up the whole country with acts of goodness never seen before.
The crowd loved him just a few days ago. In fact their affection for him took an unusual turn when he entered the city. Something special came over all of them. Cutting branches from neighboring trees, they covered his path with them. Some of them were so overwhelmed by his presence that branches were not enough. They stripped down, got rid of their clothes by laying them down while his was passing.
The same crowd stood in the courtyard of the palace to make a life and death decision indelible the now infamous custom. Today, a prisoner would be set free, acquitted of all past indictments. Today a man would have a second chance at life.
No matter how cruel this custom was, the decision should have been easy. There, stood a blameless man, having committed not a single trespass. The only caveat against him was that he set people free of all sorts of bondage. The man who set people free was now being held captive because of it. His fate, resting in the hands of those he had set free. They could have returned the favor. Everybody would have benefited from releasing him. They instead released a man who could steal, kill and destroy once again.
This would be tragic if the name of this notorious criminal wasn't Barabbas. As his name points out "son of the father" he encompasses every single one of us who were estranged from our Father by the dreaded separation of our sin nature.