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Author: rob

Son of a Father

Son of a Father

I originally scripted as a monologue that I performed as Barabbas. 

I didn’t think I’d see the sun rise today.  My name is Barabbas. Son of a father. Do you know what it’s like to be in the shadow of death? To look it in the eyes?  I was supposed to have died on this cross.

I’m still trying to make some kind of sense of Friday. It all still seems so hazy. Such a blur. I still think I’m about to awaken.

I stood before an angry crowd and they mocked me.  I’d stolen, killed, and led a rebellion. My time had come.

I mocked them back and even cursed them. They screamed, “Barabbas! Give him what he deserves! Let Rome know he doesn’t speak for us!”

I screamed back.  “Fools! You don’t know what you’re saying!  I killed Romans for YOU! I was leading us to the freedom we’ve all desired…for years! You would have joined this resistance if you’d known what was good for you!”

If murder was the crime, I was guilty. But those preposterous soldiers. They deserved it.  I feel no remorse. But I was guilty. Guilt of something more. I knew it. And it’s why I accepted my hopeless plight. I’d love to tell you I had truly done this for my people. I hadn’t.  I was in it for myself.  A power hungry rebel.  A freedom fighter who would stop at nothing to get what I wanted.

I couldn’t help but wonder. How? How had my life come to this?  I tried to be good. But it was never enough. It’s not what was going to set our people free. I tried to be a good son. A son of a father who loved me. A son. Of a Father. It’s what my very name meant. Son of a father. Bar. Abbas. Abba would be so ashamed of me now.

I waited to hear my death sentence.  These Roman cowards will have the last word after all.  I didn’t fear death. But to die at the hands of these…these…I don’t even have the words to describe my hatred of an empire that lorded over us as though they were gods and we were nothing than their pigs.

One doesn’t prepare for this kind of moment. Or series of moments. Punishment. Torture. Mockery. Slow. Excruciating. Execution. This was going to be prolonged. I would only be spared only by my last breath.

I would be a spectacle — a reminder of the fate of all who dare confront the empire.

Beside me was another man. He didn’t look much like a criminal.  I’m pretty sure I’ve passed him on the streets. How does a rabbi get himself arrested? Oh, he’s that rabbi. What a fool. I thought I was an insurrectionist but this guy. I heard he did the unthinkable. Even I wasn’t foolish enough to take on Caesar directly. He thinks he’s some kind of king. “King of the Jews!” Ha! I heard he even called himself God’s son. “The son of Father God!”

He just stood there. Wasn’t he even going to try? Try to defend himself?  Didn’t he care that they said he wouldn’t pay his taxes? I mean this rabbi might have been out of his mind but to say he wouldn’t give to Caesar what was Caesar’s?  This crowd was desperate.

This crowd was angry, hostile, cacophonous. They mocked this rabbi the same way they did me.

Then I heard Pilate address the crowd. “Get it over with you corrupt fool! You’re nothing but a pawn for Caesar. You think you’re going to climb the ladder and be Caesar’s boy! Ha! Caesar thinks more about his dog than you!”

What was he saying to the crowd anyway? Didn’t this imbecile know I’d already had my trial?

“As you know, it is tradition for me to release one prisoner to you today.”

The ludicrous tradition. I had no reason to remember it. Let’s get this over with.

“So today I ask you, whom shall I release to you? Jesus, ‘King of the Jews,’ your so-called Messiah, the ‘son’ of your god.”

“Or Barabbas the terrorist. Barabbas, as all the evidence demonstrates with clarity,  the convicted murderer. Barabbas the thief! Barabbas the one who represents you so well to Rome with his ignorance! Barabbas the cowardly…”

He was interrupted with one loud voice — “Give us Barabbas!”

Pilate tried to continue but soon one voice became two, and then ten. And in an instant this weak fool’s voice was drowned out by hundreds.

“Barabbas! Give us Barabbas. Barabbas. Give us Barabbas.”

“You say my name one more time and I’ll wrap these chains around your necks!” I screamed back at them. I knew they were mocking me.

Everyone hated me. I was a mockery to our religion.

“Give us Barabbas! Release to us Barabbas!”  These people are relentless!

But slowly, a reality began to settle.  I looked at them in disbelief.  And then…I locked eyes with him — the so called rebel standing beside me. Who was this rabbi who called himself a king and said Yahweh was his dad?

A son. A son of a father. A son. A son of a…Father. A son. A son of a…Father —bar abba. But…

“Barabbas! Never show your face here again!” Suddenly, the guards released my hands and feet from the shackles and shoved me violently into the crowd that had unlocked me. I was free. This can’t be. I was free.

But they didn’t care about me. I walked right through that crowd. Now who was the pawn now? Where would I go? Who would take me in?

I would have to figure all of that out later. In this moment I knew one thing. I was no longer going to die. I walked away from the chains. I walked away from punishment. I walked away from a hill I was supposed to have climbed. But this morning, I climbed it.

They call this place Golgotha – the hill of the skull.  There was death here Friday. I Could still smell it. Blood was spilled. I could still see it.

I should have died here. These nails in my hands were supposed to be mine. This cross! This was my cross.

I sit here in its shadow. A shadow that now covers me. A shadow that covers my transgressions because of who hung from it Friday.  A son of a father. A Son of the Father.

Son of the Father died. Son of a father remains. He was the Son of Father God. Messiah!

I am no longer a prisoner. But I can never escape this grace. This love. This sacrifice.

I was supposed to have died on this cross. Bar Abba set me free.

All sons! All daughters!

“Barabbas.” I looked up. I’d been discovered.

“Son of a father. You are son of Father,” he said gently.

bar Abba!

The son was rising.

Notes: The Hebrew word bar means “son of.” Abba means father.

You’re Not Just Anything

You’re Not Just Anything

The next time you’re tempted to say, “I’m just a ______” when talking about what you do I want to encourage you to think differently.

You’re not JUST anything.

You are an ARTISAN. A partner of God using the unique gifts and opportunities He has given you to co-create a better today and a brighter tomorrow.

You may deliver babies or stay at home all day with one. You might load trucks or maybe you design them. You may pick up trash or design solutions to recycle it. Whether you’re the CEO or make the copies, YOU MATTER. Whatever your circumstance, YOUR WORK MATTERS.

So be present in that moment, THIS moment, and work at it with all of your heart. Wake up, even on Mondays, with holy anticipation and a smile in your heart that delightfully asks God, “What do we get to do together today in your creation?” We don’t live for the weekends we live for the glorious task we’re given today. It’s not TGIF it’s TGIM.

Because HE has invited US to collaborate in countless expressive ways. Not only a few hours on Sunday but as we interact and intersect. Whether from a coffee shop or a cubicle, a home or a construction site, make it a better place by the way you participate.

Co-create faith, hope, and love in the image of the Creator who crafted you.

No, you’re not “JUST a ________.”

You’re a _________, JUSTLY, lovingly, and creatively working in the kingdom of God at hand and in your midst.

Z’ekah

Z’ekah

I’d like to invite you to consider a narrative way to think about the positions we take on issues where there are marginalized, oppressed, or powerless people involved.  This narrative arises from a compassionate God of justice who invites us to remember…and to participate.

We begin with a Hebrew root word — tsaaq.  This describes a cry or a shriek when an individual or a group of people are calling out desperately for help.  I will use the transliterated z’ekah here to describe this word as the act of crying out.

I invite you to follow this trajectory with me in God’s unfolding narrative.

After the fall of humanity… when sin has tainted God’s perfect creation, we see how quickly and how far humanity has fallen.

What began as an intimate partnership, in which Adam and Eve are invited to co-care for God’s creation, devolves into a tragic question that still plagues humanity today. It is a question on the lips of Cain who has just committed a tragic deed of injustice in murdering his brother. And here we come to our Hebrew word – z’ekah The blood of Abel z’ekah’d to God.  It’s a strange description but the powerless blood of dead Abel cried out for justice in the face of a horrific oppression.  Perhaps more disturbing is Cain’s response – a tragic question posed to the Creator – Am I my brother’s keeper?  Injustice. Apathy. Failure to take responsibility. Tragedy.

After Israel has been enslaved for 430 years in Egypt…when sin has tainted God’s perfect creation…

One group of people decides to take advantage of another group of people who are “strangers” in their land to accomplish their own desires. And before they know it , the community of Israelites find themselves on the “wrong” side of “The Egyptian Dream.”  They are powerless.  Strangers. Aliens. Israel is forced into slave labor where their only value is measured in bricks…and more bricks…and more bricks.  And what do they do after 4 centuries? They z’ekah.  And God heard their cry.  And He acted upon their cry.  God was on the side of the powerless and oppressed.  To be on the wrong side of power was disastrous times ten for Egypt.

After Israel is free and will eventually be given a land to inhabit…when sin has tainted God’s perfect creation…

Israel is blessed. But not because Israel is elite or better than.  Israel is blessed so it can be a blessing to the world – a light to the Gentiles. To do that God says remember.  Remember where you came from.  You once cried out.  You were rescued. And now you are to answer the cries, the z’ekah of the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized, the powerless.

God makes it plain.

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.  Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.  If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.  My anger will be aroused…”. (Ex. 22:22-24)

You once z’ekah’d. I answered your z’ekah.

You are now called to participate with me in answering the z’ekah of others.
If you take advantage of them, they will z’ekah to me.
I will hear them.
This will be disastrous for you.
Because you will have forgotten what it means to participate in my story.
You will have forgotten what it means to know me.

After God puts on flesh and enters the world through Jesus…when sin has tainted God’s perfect creation…

Jesus sat at table with the poor, the marginalized, the outcast, the oppressed, the powerless. He practiced a compassion, inclusion, embrace, and grace to all who z’ekah’d, in a way the world had never seen.  He defied religious etiquette and social boundaries to show the extent of God’s love and compassion. He built larger tables, greater expectations, and broader grace. And the “religious” rejected him.  Before crying out from a cross of execution, Jesus z’ekah’d what it meant to know him and to participate with him in his story.

I was a stranger and you invited me in. (Matt. 25:35)

I was an alien. I cried out.
You heard my z’ekah. You participated in my story.
You sided with the oppressed. You identified with the marginalized…no matter the cost.
You were your brother’s and sister’s keeper…no matter the risk.
You practiced compassion. You practiced justice.
You remembered.

Yes, that was me.
This is what it meant and what it means to know me.
Let’s do this.  Let’s co-care for creation. Together.

Now. Forever.