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