Sunday, February 2, 2014


This short Biblical novel was written as an assignment for my Christian Spirituality class.  I attempted to put myself in Barabbas' place during that pivotal moment when the Jews cemented their desire to have Jesus crucified.  I obtained my inspiration from Matthew 27:15-26.

It’s completely dark.  Nothing moves except the faint imagining of shadows all around me.  Cloaks, armor, staves, hoods; they all seem to be skulking ever nearer and yet too preoccupied to notice my position.  I cling tighter to the boulder I’m hidden behind.  Suddenly a rogue wind whips my skin into a plethora of bumps and then howls around the rocks with a lonesome wail.  Suddenly it is gone.  The blackness is becoming thicker now.  Off in the distance a lone crack of thunder follows a lingering flash of lighting half veiled by a shroud of misty blackness.  I peer again through the fog creeping up the hillside.  Yes, right there, in between my two men, at the top of the rocky slope.  It’s Him – I can see Him.  It’s the Man I stood next to earlier today.  The Man I can never forget.  The experience was too surreal.

Anger had burned deep down in my soul.  I was being dragged up the stone steps towards Pilate’s judgment hall.  I couldn’t see straight, I stumbled, I fell.  I was tired.  Tired of the guards’ jeering.  Tired of running.  Tired of prison.  Tired of life.  I now could see the mob that had gathered outside Pilate’s court.  I knew why they were there.  Everyone hated me.  They had good reason to.  I led a roving band of thugs and cutthroats.  We plundered, killed, stole, and grabbed everything we could.  I’ve always been looking for a better life, something that would gratify my desires and satisfy me with fulfillment.  I still haven’t found it.  And then one night we accidentally happened upon a Roman contubernium.  They arrested myself and two of my best men.  The rest got away.  I hated everything and everyone.

Suddenly a loud shout interrupted my rueful thoughts.  “Crucify him, crucify him!!!”  The crowd had become impatient.  That’s when I looked up and saw Him.  I froze; I had seen this Man several times before.   I was always interested in large crowds due to their wonderful supply of articles to steal.  But every time my men and I mingled in the crowd surrounding this Man, Jesus, our thoughts would be distracted by His simplistic stories and direct instruction.  He had a way about Him that was like none other.  He could captivate entire crowds.  I glanced around for the men who were usually with Him, but I saw no one. Right now Pilate was arduously interrogating Him while he stood motionless next to one of the great pillars holding up the porch roof.  His face seemed bruised in the early morning light, and His hands were tied tightly behind his back.  He looked my direction but I quickly diverted my eyes.  I was still angry and now more confused than ever as to why I was even here.  Then Pilate began to speak to the multitude gathered below us.  “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

Suddenly a servant rushed past me.  He handed a little script to Pilate and then bowed, awaiting a response.  Pilate’s face became troubled as he slowly rose to his feet.  The crowd outside was becoming louder and more belligerent.  “Crucify him, crucify him!  We want Jesus, let Barabbas go.”  My mind raced.  My ears were hearing one thing while my mind told me another.  I knew that each year during the major festivals it was Pilate’s habit to release a prisoner as a gesture of goodwill between the Roman rule and his Jewish subjects.  But no, it couldn’t be happening to me.  Was this- but my thoughts were interrupted once again.

“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” Pilate was again asking the crowd again.  I could tell he was stalling.

“Release Barabbas!”

“What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

“Let him be crucified.  Crucify him!  Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  The crowd began to chant in unison.  Their cries became louder and louder with each syllable.  The chant was rhythmic, almost hypnotic.  The sound rose from the plaza before Pilate’s judgment hall, echoing off the arching porch dome, around the stone walls enclosing the palace, and meeting again in the center before ricocheting off the tall pillars surrounding the courtyard.  The shouts began to meld into one dull roar that threatened to unnerve the most hardened criminal or soldier standing to witness the judgment scene.  I could feel a presence surrounding the arena spread out before me.  I could almost feel the clutch of the death cries as they fought for the very air I was trying to breath.  It became thick around me.  My mind was racing again.  Everything was going dark.

Suddenly, I again noticed Jesus.  He was looking at me.  I began to breathe again as a comforting smile spread across His face.  I felt as if He were reading me; reviewing every action of mine, every thought that I was thinking.  He was completely unphased by the uproar that was happening all around us.  Something in that look broke me.  There was no judgment, no condemnation; just reassurance.

Pilate attempted once more to quiet down the people.  He took a basin of water and ceremoniously washed his hands.  “I am innocent of the blood of this just person.   You see to it.”  His face was full of frustration and anger now.  The crowd had cornered him.

The high priest, dressed in a robe of white, yelled from the crowd below, “His blood be on us and on our children.”  The crowd immediately erupted in vociferous agreement.  My ears began to ring from the noise.

Suddenly a guard grabbed me and yanked off my shackles.  “You’re free,” he said bluntly.  I stared in disbelief.  There must have been a mistake.  I looked again at Jesus.  Here was a Man whom I had seen several times, preaching, healing, loving, never breaking the law or getting into trouble.  Our lives had been complete opposites; His, a life of holiness and compassion, and mine, one of greed, selfishness, and pain.  And yet here we were, standing together before a great crowd of witnesses.  His perfection next to my imperfection.

“GO!” the guard yelled into my ear.  I went.  At first I was hesitant, slowly stumbling towards the stairs.  I looked back for one last glimpse of the Man who had taken my place – the Man who had set me free.  His calm composure and demeanor etched themselves into my mind as I began to run.  I was free.  I left the court and turned down the road that led to the city gate.

Only a few hours have passed.  Now here I am, quietly watching three lonely crosses standing tall amidst a supernatural, eerie storm.  My name is Barabbas, translated to mean son of Abba, or father.  I have no name.  I have no life.  I am a sinner.  An outlaw.  Yet Jesus took my place.  He freed me!  I can almost hear his voice, even now, above the noise of fear all around me.  “Barabbas, I will die in your place.  You are free, my son!”

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