Many of us wonder why a notorious Bandit, a murderer, and a rebel like Barabbas, was preferred by the crowd to be set free. If Barabbas was not in the passion play, there would never have been crucifixion and Jesus would have been instantly set free by Pilate. Barabbas started a rebellion against the Roman rulers and he was a prisoner awaiting death. The gospel of John tells us that Barabbas is a criminal.
"He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth." Isaiah 53:7
"The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also?"
John 7 :45 -47
The ministers returned empty handed, hearing the voice of God, but now the hour had come when the son of man had to be handed to the sinners. The Pharisees and Sadducees failed to accuse Jesus of any sin, but when the Sanhedrin made Jesus confess under oath that he was the son of God, finally they heard what they wanted. Then the Lord was unjustly tried. Pontius Pilate is painted as a cruel judge according to the Lucan gospel and according to the sources of the historians Josephus and Philo. He was having lot of problems with Caesar, he was chastised by Tiberius, and he always had problems with the Jewish rebels. He was afraid of judging Jesus unjustly, not because of fear of an innocent man's blood, but that it may become a spot on his royal robe and throne. Pilate wanted to escape and he sent Jesus to Herod, where Herod just mocked him, tortured him, and sent him back. According to the historians and the gospels, Pilate and Herod had been enemies but they were made friends because of Jesus. Christ's death on the cross reconciled two bitter enemies. Pilate tossed the coin by letting Barabbas step in to release Jesus but the crowd did not agree. Barabbas was guilty to be condemned to death even as per the mosaic law but the venom of hatred against Jesus made them release Barabbas. Thus Jesus was sentenced to be crucified in the place of Barabbas, and Barabbas a criminal went free. Barabbas literally means "son of the father" and this shows that he is the son of an earthly father, whereas Jesus was the son of God. Barabbas ("son of the father") was guilty of robbing the Son of the Eternal Father of his glory. Barabbas is none other than you and I - the sinful sons of Adam, and we are set free from eternal damnation because of the Son of the Eternal Father - Jesus, who took our sins upon him.
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed.
The unfair trial now turned into a fair trial. The Divine exchange was done to set Barabbas free. We are no longer captives of sin and the chains of captivity have no more hold over us. We are set free, he bought us with a ransom, and he set us free. Whomever the son sets free is free indeed. He tore away the veil he made, Jesus took our place, and the innocent Son of the Eternal Father was condemned to set the sons and daughters of Adam free. When we know this, we can never be the same again.