Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34
No, they really had no idea what they were doing. As the religious leaders of Israel demanded that Barabbas be released, and Jesus be sentenced to death, they were, in fact, demonstrating, through that one act, exactly what Jesus came to earth to do.
His main purpose was to be the “Once and for all sacrifice” for all mankind, so that all who were guilty and deserving of death could be set free. Barabbas was the picture and representation of you and me; his life was spared as Jesus gave His up.
The simplicity of the Gospel was seen in that very moment. Barabbas received mercy and grace that he did not deserve all through the sacrifice of another, Jesus. The Gospel does not need to be complicated because it is so simple that even a child can understand. There was nothing that Barabbas did or could have done that day to deserve being released from his sentence of death and given his full freedom and complete pardon. Such is the case with you and me. But thank God that because of His mercy and grace, all who receive Jesus are spared from the sentence of death and given eternal life.