Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Read Chapter 18
Cyril of Alexandria
Herein also the Jews show themselves indeed lawbreakers, and more inclined to give way to their own inclinations than to honour their ancient commandments; for though the Mosaic Law ordered that a man who had committed involuntary homicide should be released, and not a man like Barabbas (for how could such a thing be?), they prefer to ask for a notorious robber. And that the man here named was, in fact, a dangerous and brutal criminal, and not free from blood-guiltiness, the words of the inspired Peter to the people of the Jews will make clear to us: But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you. For they preferred a robber to Him Who regarded not His equality with God the Father, and took our poverty upon Him for this very end, that He might deliver us from the true murderer, that is, Satan; and they were men adorned with the priesthood of the Law, and who greatly vaunted themselves thereon. Yet they passed by and utterly rejected the commandment, Judge righteous judgment, and justified the murderer, condemning Christ, and cried with one accord: Not this Man, but Barabbas. The Jews, however, will pay the penalty of their impious act; but we may well admire the Holy Scripture, examining it in the light of Christ's Person, and this desperate outcry; for thus saith the Prophet Jeremiah: I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage, I have given my beloved soul into the hand of her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me. It may be well to explain this simile of the lion in the forest. He says it is with his heritage as when this great and frightful beast desires to seize some prey in the forest, it goes up to a high peak, and gives forth a great and fearful roar, and strikes such terror into those who hear, that man or beast at once fall prostrate, not able to endure the awful sound of his threatening voice, and the beast, as it were, makes them fall by the breath of his mouth. And God confirms this saying also by the prophet, when he thus speaks: The lion roareth; who will not fear? The assembly of the Jews, therefore, was as a lion in the forest to our Saviour Christ, so far, at least, as their presumptuous clamour against Him went; for the Nature of God endureth not panic or fear at all. For the assembly, by its clamour, put Him to death, though Pilate invited them to choose His release; so that even those who had not yet learnt the Divine Law might be proved better than men instructed in the Law