Friday, 29 March 2013

Barabbas' Story

It was still early morning when I heard a noise outside of the prison. A crowd had gathered and were shouting, bellowing even. I looked at the others in the cell but no one could understand what it was about. What could the Jews want with Pilate this close to Passover?
     That's when I heard my name. The crowd in unison called, "Barabbas!" over and over. Everyone looked at me and I wondered even more what it meant.
     One man said, "Pilate releases a prisoner each year during Passover. It sounds like the crowd wants you."
     Me! Why would they want me? If the Priests ever asked it would only be for a good man, wrongfully imprisoned by the Romans. I, on the other hand, am definitely not a good man. I was in prison because I murdered many people in a riot. Everyone hated me.
     It was then that a guard appeared. He unlocked the door and released my shackles. I looked at him and he silently pointed to the door.
     "I can go?"
     He nodded. So I got stiffly to my feet and hobbled out of the cell. With the guard I passed along corridors I never thought I would see again and eventually came to the door. The sun was bright and I blinked until my eyes adjusted.
     I followed the sound of the crowd, who were quieter now. Many priests were gathered, along with other Jews. I joined them and tried to say thank you for having me released but they ignored me. These men, who had been shouting my name just minutes before showed me their backs. I was still a hated man. What was going on here?
     At the front I saw Pilate in his magnificent robes and next to him another man, his shoulders slumped.
     "Who is that?" I asked someone.
     "Jesus," they replied.
     Even in the prison we had heard of this man. Story teller, preacher, even miracle worker sometimes, although people doubted. I was interested to hear what was going on so I got closer and it was then that I realised that Jesus was on trial.
     Suddenly those at the front, with whom Pilate was conversing, starting shouting again, except this time they said, "Crucify him."

Later that day I watched as this man, who seemed to have done nothing wrong dragged his cross out of the city. His back was torn from whips and his head was pierced with thorns.
     The charge for his execution was: This man is the King of the Jews.
     Had he stolen? No. Had he caused trouble? No. Had he murdered? No. But I had. And I was free. Something was surely amiss here. I was the one in the wrong. Why wasn't I carrying that cross and being whipped. It seemed like it was my fault and I felt so guilty.
     I pushed through the crowd as we climbed a hill outside of Jerusalem. I came along side Jesus.
     "Jesus," I called out over the noise of the crowd, "forgive me. You have taken my place. Why did you not argue?"
     He turned and looked at me. I know he looked at me, but he did not say anything. The look he gave though was enough. In that look there was forgiveness. In that look there was love.
     Jesus went to the cross for me and changed my life forever.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Padlocked Chest - Part 5

Over the next days we kept ourselves busy and the time went quickly. We built up our wood pile on top of the hill, but most of the branches we cut went to building shelters or rafts.
     It was just as the routine was becoming monotonous that the thing we'd been waiting for arrived. A ship appeared on the horrizon. Gemma spotted it and yelled. Jack took off up the hill to start the fire, which is what we'd planned. The wood had been kept dry and it caught quickly. Smoke drifted lazily up into the still air. Meanwhile, down on the shore we were yelling as loud as we could.
     Five minutes passed and the ship seemed not to have noticed but then sails began to be taken in and the bow turned towards us. We cheered and whooped.
     'Quick,' I shouted, 'get the rafts into the water.'
     Together we lifted our bulky structures into sea where they floated beautifully. The ship was nearer now and there could be no doubt they were heading for us.
     'Wait, what about the men in the cave?' said Philippa.
     'They left us, I reckon we leave them,' Peter responded.
     'They must have heard us shouting,' said Jack, 'if they haven't bothered to come out by now to see what's going on then I don't think they will. I'm with Peter.'
     'Still,' I said, 'we ought to let them know.'
     Two older guys offered to go and we said we'd wait. They returned within half an hour.
     'They think we're trying to trick them into coming out of the cave,' said Adam, as they came up, 'so they're not coming out.'
     I nodded. 'Well, that's that then.'
     There was a terrific splash and we saw the ship had lowered an anchor.
     'On to the rafts everyone, let's go.'
     We boarded our log vessels and slowly pushed off from the shore. We'd gone less than ten metres however, when there was a shout and a man came splashing towards us.
     'Wait, for me,' he called.
     'He's from the cave,' said Adam.
     'I'm coming with you,' he said, as he reached the first raft.
     'What about the others?' I asked.
     'No, they're staying.'
     We pulled him onto the raft and then continued paddling out towards the ship, thankful for the calm waters. Gradually we drifted closer until we came alongside. From above us a rope ladder was dropped. I grabbed it and started to climb.
     I looked back towards the island, but it had gone.
     'Guys,' I called down, 'where's the island?'
     They looked back too.
     'Wait,' said Philippa, 'what's that?' She pointed.
     'It's a door,' I said, squinting, 'it must be the one we came through from the chest.'
     'This just gets weirder and weirder,' said Adam, 'well, there's no going back. On to the ship everyone.'

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Death to bullets

Each year there are enough bullets produced to shoot every person on the planet twice. Seeing as it only has to take one bullet to kill someone, it seems we are making a determined effort to wipe humanity off the Earth. Plus of course killing is illegal in most countries, but then, as Voltaire said, "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
     The Arms Trade is worth somewhere between $45-60 billion, and most of that is from the world's richest nations, to the world's poorest. Seeing as the rich countries are probably lending the money to the poor ones in the first place it hardly seems worth it. There is also a huge lack of accountability. Once the weapons are handed over the new owners are welcome to do what they like with them, and that includes using them against the rich nations.
     The problem is, of course, that all these supposedly 'rich' countries are in debt, which means they will make money in any way they can even if it means rolling out enough bullets to wipe out humanity. It has been said that it takes courage to kill someone, now it seems it takes courage not to.