I wrote this a few years ago, but a Twitter discussion reminded me of it. Enjoy!
Today, I, Jesus bar Abbas (more commonly known as Barabbas, as to not be confused with another man by the name of Jesus), was supposed to be crucified.
You see, I was what many would refer to as a terrorist. I didn’t mean to start as a terrorist however. I saw the evils that the Roman rulers had inflicted upon my people, and I had to resist. I considered myself a freedom fighter. My group and I started out by killing select Roman government leaders and officials. When the Romans reacted by killing my people, that is the Jews, the Pharisees turned against my group of revolutionaries. They were turning in my men, and I had to do something! We only had a small group to begin with, and I couldn’t lose more, we couldn’t fight off the Romans with what we had, let alone losing more men! So, at that point we killed a few of the Pharisees who were turning in my men. I didn’t want to kill my own people, but, I thought I was left without a choice.
After losing a few of my better men either because of their death to Roman soldiers, crucifixion by the Roman government, or for them leaving over their “moral issues” I had to recruit more men. These new men didn’t hold to the same high standards as we had held to in the past. So, my group now consisted of the rag tags of society. Now not only did we kill Romans, but we often robbed Jews as well. Some of them would fight back, and we’d have to kill them. Some of the men even took to raping of the Roman women, and on a few occasion even the Jewish women.
On one occasion we set out to rob a guy, one of those temple workers, and it turned out to be the son of Caiaphas, the high priest! The priests had mostly left us alone, seemingly in ways even supporting our cause, until this happened. We didn’t know who he was when we set out to rob him, but he fought back and I killed him in the struggle. We didn’t realize who it was until after I had killed him. This infuriated Caiaphas. He then used his influence with Governor Pilate to have my men attacked by a legion of Roman soldiers. That was the end of my failed revolution. They came upon us with amazing force horribly outnumbering us, we never stood a chance. They did take a few of us alive, the leadership that is. It seems killing us wasn’t enough for them, we had to be put through the brutality of the cross. The cross is far worse than anything I had ever done to anyone I had killed. The thought of facing it sickened me.
I was tried and found guilty, rightfully so. I sat in prison for two months just waiting for that horrible day to come.
When the appointed time for my crucifixion came, there was a man, Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the “King of the Jews.” He even claimed to be God! He was to be executed on the same day as I.
He didn’t seem to be an “insurrectionist” as I was, he didn’t even look capable of violence. I had heard that when he was captured he didn’t even try to fight back. I had heard rumors, even in prison, that this man could heal people and that he was one of the rabbinic teachers, and a few even said he was the Son of God. If he were the son of God why did he let himself get captured? He mustn’t be that spectacular to get himself captured. He did have quite the following though.
That day was Passover, and the Roman government had always allowed the Jews to set one prisoner free just prior to his execution. I knew it wouldn’t be me, I was hated. I had killed so many people, mostly Roman, but many Jewish as well. And Caiaphas, the high priest, would see to it that I wasn’t even given a chance to be set free. It would certainly be this “Jesus” that they would set free, he was harmless. They would just beat him a bit, and set him free. He wouldn’t have to crucified like I would be.
When it was time for the people to choose who they would set free I heard a large crowd, much bigger than any other time I had had ever seen. They were chanting “Crucify him!” over and over again. At about this time some of the soldiers brought me out from the prison and to where the governor was speaking in front of the crowd.
The man they were chanting about was this Jesus of Nazareth. It seemed to me that he was innocent of all crimes but they wanted him dead for some reason. And that’s when Pilate had the soldiers present me in front of the crowd. He gave the people the choice between setting me free, or setting this Jesus free.
I knew what the answer would be, there is no way they would let me go after all that I had done. But it did seem that Pilate really wanted to let him go. When he presented us I knew what the choice would be. I would be taken to die, while the Nazarene would be set free.
But, to my surprise they kept shouting “crucify him! crucify him!”.
Then Pilate got the crowd to quiet down he asked them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
I’ll never forget what happened next, the priests got the crowd chanting my name, Barabbas. They were going to set me free and crucify the Nazarene. Pilate asked them again, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And again the crowd yelled my name.
With that Pilate signaled for the soldiers to release me. I immediately ran off into the crowd, and kept on going until I couldn’t see the crowd anymore not wanting Pilate to change his mind. As I was running I heard him shout “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” The crowds response sickened me, “Let him be crucified.” As I was running that’s all I heard from them.
The Jesus, the Nazarene, the one they say is “King of the Jews” never did argue or fight back from what I saw and have heard. He just took it, he didn’t argue at his trial, and he didn’t argue when the people chose to set me free. When they chose me to be set free he made eye contact with me, and it looked like for a second he was happy. As if he was happy to see me set free, pardoned of all of my crimes. It’s as if he wanted to die so I could be set free.
Later on I met with some of his followers, they have some wild claims. They claim that even during his crucifixion he was forgiving people for what they were doing to him. Most people when they are being crucified will try to get what little revenge they can, they’ll cuss at, spit, and even pee, on the people below them. Jesus didn’t do this, he forgave the people! How could he do this? How could he die on the cross that was meant for me and forgive the people who were doing it to him? This man was innocent, and he died for the crimes I was guilty of, the crimes that I should have been crucified for.
The other claim his followers make is that 3 days later his tomb was empty, and that he walked, talked, and ate with them after. He eventually went to Heaven, and is said to be coming back again some day. I now look forward to that day, when I can finally thank him for saving me from the punishment that I deserved and giving his life for mine.