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Barabbas and The Two Thieves
by Wayne Blank
The Lord was completely innocent, and yet was arrested That Fateful Night, "convicted," and brutally executed (see How Did Jesus Christ Die?) at Calvary, also known as "the place of the skull" (seen in the photograph at left). But then, The Son of God's innocence was the point of it all - Jesus didn't come to die for anything that He had done, He came to die for what we, all humanity, have done.
There were three other people that were closely linked with The Lord's fate that day. Unlike Jesus Christ, all three of them were truly guilty of very serious crimes. Two of them were executed along with The Lord, and the third, to further illustrate what a mockery of justice went on that day, was set free by Pontius Pilate even though there was no doubt that he was guilty.
Barabbas was a notorious criminal who Pilate proposed to execute instead of Jesus. To Pilate's credit, he genuinely tried to get The Lord released, knowing full well that He was not guilty of anything. But, to his discredit, some would say disgrace, he still gave in to the mob in the end -
"Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him."
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor.
"Barabbas," they answered.
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered, "Crucify Him!"
"Why? What crime has He committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify Him!"
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
All the people answered, "Let His blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified.
The Two Thieves
The two thieves were very likely more than simple burglars. They were also very possibly murderers as well. They were crucified, one on each side of The Savior -
"Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals - one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is The Christ of God, the Chosen One."
The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save Yourself."
There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: "Aren't You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!"
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth today, you will be with Me in paradise."
Fact Finder: After the death of Jesus, did the commander of the soldiers who killed Him realize that He really was the Son of God?
This Week's Bible Quiz
1. What nationality was Protestant reformer Martin Luther?
2. When was he born?
3. In what city was he born?
4. What was his occupation?
5. What was the church selling that Luther found unacceptable?
6. How many Theses were listed in Luther's famous document?
7. In what town did Luther nail his Theses to the door of the castle church?
8. What was Luther's punishment for his opposition to church corruption?
9. What was the name of the lady that Luther married?
10. What was her former occupation?
For the answers to this March 7 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page