Voices of the Passion and Easter - Barabbas

I have imagined the reactions and thought processes of those people involved in the Good Friday and Easter narrative.

I hope that it will assist you to meditate on these events with fresh thoughts.

I have had a hard life with no-one giving me any favours and I haven’t offered any to others either. I didn’t know my father and so didn’t have an example, either good or bad, to follow – not that I cared.

It was almost inevitable that I fell in with the ‘wrong crowd’ – people who thought like I did. It was almost a disregard for the rest of society (after all, what had they done for me?) and a realisation that this world was all there was so everyone was out for themselves.

It started off in small things like a bit of petty pilfering, like stealing sandals and the like, before it went onto more serious stuff. I would have no hesitation in stopping a rich merchant’s train at knifepoint and stealing the whole lot of their goods. Ah, the best pickings were on the road near Jericho which ran from north to south. It was miles away from any civilisation and many travellers were too concerned with their own safety to think about another hapless soul who had been robbed by the likes of me.

Sometimes, for a bit of sport, a group of us would get together and take on a small convoy of Roman soldiers just for the fun of it. Usually, we would do this in the towns and cities where it was easy to hide afterwards. That was my downfall because, after a minor altercation with a Roman soldier, I killed him with the small dagger and took some money that he was carrying. Before I could disappear into the shadows, I was apprehended by some others from his legion.

I was tried and, inevitably found guilty by the judges. There was unavoidable punishment of crucifixion that faced me. I was not bothered by this prospect; after all, isn’t life supposed to be short and brutal?

To my surprise, I was hauled up before Pilate and made to stand before people from the city. I was so dazed that I did not realise what was happening, especially as the heat and sun’s glare made the whole situation feel unreal. It turned out that at Passover time, Pilate had the opportunity to free a prisoner which was chosen by those in the crowd. Next to me was the bloody form of a man who been severely beaten by the palace guard. It was Jesus who I had heard so much about for He had been doing good deeds throughout the land, so I thought that there was no contest and that it would still be me walking through the gates with the wooden cross. I was astounded when the crowd, almost as one voice, demanded that it was Jesus who should be crucified instead of me, a decision that was verified by Pilate.

My chains were removed from me and I was led out from the Seat of Judgement. Someone else had taken my place – instead of receiving mercy, my judgement had been laid on Jesus and now I had received the grace that I did not deserve.