BARABBAS OR JESUS? (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ )

In the first Gospel, the writer Mathew narrates his call As he (Jesus) walked along (Capernaum), he saw a tax collector, named Mathew, sitting in his office. He said to him, Follow me (Mt.9, 9).

The other two Synoptic writers, Mark and Luke, identify the tax collector as Levi, Son of Alphaeus. Levi means joined. As tax collector he was joined, as Herbert Lockyer says in All the Men of the Bible, to the worlds crooked extortionate ways and mercenary aims

Barabbas is a minor character who appears in all the four Gospels of the Bible.

In the Gospel according to Mathew, Barabbas is introduced as a well known prisoner. Barabbas name appears five times in Mathews Gospel.

The Gospel according to Mark says about Barabbas, At that time a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot.(Mk 15,7) Mark mentions Barabbas name only three times.

Introducing Barabbas in his Gospel Luke says, Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder(Lk, 23, 19). Luke also mentions Barabbas name three times.

In the Gospel according to John, Barabbas was a bandit.Pilate wanted to release Jesus the King of the Jewish, according to the custom of setting free a prisoner during the big Jewish feast of Passover. But when Pilate asked the crowd about releasing Jesus, They answered him with a shout No, not him! We want Barabbas! (Jn 18, 40) John mentions only two times Barabbas name.

Barabbas is a Greek name originating from Aramaic, which was a Semitic language of the common man (lingua franca) during the time of Jesus. The name Barabbas means Fathers Son.

Mathew, Mark and Luke have written in almost the same words that, Pilate wanted to please the crowed so he set Barabbas free for them. Then he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.(Mk. 15,15)

As John has noted Pilate had cross-examined Jesus. Then the Jewish authorities did not go inside the palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order to be able to eat the Passover meal(Jn 18, 28-29). So Pilate went out to them and declared, I cannot find reason to condemn him. (Jn 18, 38; 19,6)

As Marks has noted, Pilate knew very well that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous.(Mk 15,10) So with the intention of sparing Jesus Pilate told the people, But according to the custom you have, I always set fee a prisoner for you during the Passover. Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jesus?

They answered him with a shout, No, not him. We want Barabbas! (Barabbas was a bandit.) (Jn 18, 38-40). John may very well identify Barabbas as a bandit but obviously the clamouring of many people for Barabbas shows that he was their hero.

The Bible scholar says that many believe that Barabbas might have been a member of Zealot. Something like the modern gorillas or commandos the Zealot was a sort of fanatic nationalistic group who revolted the Roman authorities to get them out of Palestine.

The Zealots were active in Palestine from two centuries before Christ till the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem in the year 73 AD. They believed that there is no king but God and they followed no law but the law of Moses. They believed that they were the Jewish nationalist. Historical evidences show that the Zealots were becoming more and more violent as time passed.

Some of those who were clamouring for Barabbas in front of the Governors Palace could be the followers of Barabbas. For them Barabbas was not a bandit or a thief but he was their revolutionary hero, who fought against the foreign power and would lead them to political freedom.

 

અમારો સંપર્ક કરો

ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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