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.