For Whom Did Jesus Die?

Well, on the very face of it, you have to say that Jesus died for Barabbas.

I had the good fortune of preaching at University Baptist Church in Waco last weekend. I cheated a bit on the lectionary and preached about Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer who was released by Pilate.

There are numerous problems with this passage. One is that there’s no extra-biblical evidence of what Mark writes: “Back in those days, there was a tradition…” That tradition was to release one prisoner during the Festival of Passover. The problems are: [Read more…]

Who Was Barabbas?


Barabbas, by James Lissot (Wikicommons)

In a couple weeks, I’m preaching at a church in Texas. It’s Baptist church and, believe it or not, they’re using the lectionary! But, since they’re Baptists, they’re not totally wedded to the lectionary. So when I looked at the Gospel text for that week, and found it uninteresting, I asked them if I could jump a week ahead and use part of the passage from Palm/Passion Sunday. They agreed.

So I’m going to preach about Barabbas, the thief/insurrectionist (depending on which Gospel you use) who was released on the Passover. The crowd was given the choice: Pilate would release either Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd chose Barabbas. (For a heart-wrenching version of this scene, listen to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Movement 44. Here’s a version:

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