I wrote this little monologue back a couple of years ago for a school Easter presentation. I don't know what made me think of Barrabas in the jail, its been a few years ago since I wrote it.
I was a good kid. I really was. Everyone thought I'd grow up to work in the temple. I was a really
good student too. Smart. That's the word everyone used. Teachers, parents, other kids. Smart.
Its good to be smart, but its hard too…
I remember when it changed though. I was in Grade 5 and Jonas moved to town. He was different. He always said stuff like, "I don't know why we have to keep doing this stuff. It hasn't worked for 600 years…"
I liked Jonas. He had a way with words that made people listen to him and I listened. I was getting tired of doing the right thing all the time. I wanted something exciting in my life. Jonas brought excitement. Sometimes we'd tip over market stalls just to hear the owners yell. Sometimes we'd scare people into thinking we had leprosy. Sometimes we'd just sit around and make up things to do, crazy things, things we'd never follow through on…
When we were all done school, Jonas and I decided we wanted out of our little town. We headed
north, far from the Roman headquarters. And we did what we wanted. Jonas had started to come up with his own ideas about the way people should be governed and it had nothing to do with Rome, priests, God…
We started out small in our law breaking, but then Jonas came up with his plan. The government was wasting money he said. He was going to take back what was stolen from him… I didn’t think that people would end up dead, though. I didn’t think this was where I was headed way back in Grade 5.
So far I’ve done a lot of blaming other people and my circumstances for why I’m here. I don’t want you to get me wrong. I’m guilty. I took a bunch of guys and got the job done. I knew it was illegal. I knew it was against everything I’d been taught and I did it anyway. That’s how I ended up in jail and how my story started to get out.
One day when I was sitting there, sitting there, like every other day in that damp wet filthy stone cell, I heard a noise like I’d never heard in my whole time in prison. There’d been crowds outside before, there was always something going on. This was different though. This was something huge. There was a lot of shouting. I wondered to myself if they’d finally taken Jonas, though he’d always sworn that they’d never take him alive. Suddenly I heard something that made my blood run cold. It was my name.
BARABBAS BARABBAS BARABBAS
Well now, what do they want with me? Then it happened again, louder than before and this time it brought a chill to me because immediately after the chant I heard the words I’d dreaded since my trial…
CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM
So it had come to this. My life which was so full of potential was now going to end like this. At the hands of the people I’d come to hate, for doing something that every civilized nation everywhere declared was wrong. I was going to die and I deserved it…
The next few minutes were the longest ones of my life. Shouting from the end of the long dark hallway, keys rattling, soldiers laughing, all added up to one sad funeral song to me. I didn’t know what to do. I stood to my feet knowing that I could do nothing now. Mercy had passed me by. As I had let it pass by for those now dead in my past…
Dragged from the cell, shoved to the ground, prodded with the blunt end of spears by soldiers too eager to use the sharp end. Led to the end of that long hallway, out into the cool night air, only to hear the last words I’d ever expected… “GET OUT OF HERE.”
Get out of here? I staggered, nearly falling. I turned to look at my tormenters. There had to be some cruel joke coming next. I slowly backed away. The soldiers didn’t even watch me go, they hurried away, back to the party or whatever was going on in the meeting place where the crowd was.
I was stunned, more stunned than the day I’d been arrested, more stunned than the day the Roman governor Pilate had pronounced me guilty.
“Get out of here”… the words echoed around me. How could this be?
Who is being crucified then? How could it be? Why was my name called out?
I had to find out.
I hurried up to the crowd, I didn’t care that I didn’t smell very good. I didn’t care that I was covered in dirt and cobwebs. I asked the first person I saw what was going on.
“Where have you been?” he asked. I didn’t answer, just waited for a response.
“It’s Jesus,” he said. He’s going to be killed. I guess the priests have had enough of his teachings.
“Why were they yelling, ‘Barabbas’, then?” I asked.
“We wanted Pilate to let Barabbas go free,” he replied. Pilate said, ‘Jesus or Barabbas goes free,’ and we chose Barabbas.”
“What? You let Barabbas go free? Why? What has this Jesus done wrong?”
“Um… I don’t really know…I think he’s really bad though… I really don’t know, I know the priests want him dead.”
I wandered away in shock. Someone else was dying when it should have been me.
Why? Why not me.
This man’s death was giving me life. I was determined to use it for something good.