Why Me Lord?
A supposition on the effects of Christ’s crucifixion and death on Barabbas.
(Written By Daniel J. West Jr.)
(Featured Image from desertrivers.org)
A letter from Barabbas, brother in Christ, redeemed of God, to the church of Christ, our Lord and Savior in Nineveh. May God the Father grant you peace, grace and wisdom in all your days. In the name of Christ and with the help of His sovereign and Holy Spirit I write this as an account of my salvation and an act of contrition. Here is an eyewitness account of the crucifixion and death of our Lord and Savior.
Many either know me or know of my reputation; I was the worst kind of person. A thief, rapist, killer, liar, cheat, in fact I do not think there is any of God’s commandments that I held to. Jerusalem was the perfect place for me because I could rob the money changers in the Temple; suffice it to say I made a fine living with all that went on in the City of David. Always new people coming in and out of the city, with bags of silver just waiting to be taken, it truly was a thief’s paradise.
It happened one day when I was just walking, when all of the sudden the whole town was shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” I went to the main street and saw Jesus, this great teacher and prophet, riding into town like a conquering hero might do, but instead of a glorious chariot, he was riding on an ass. His followers were throwing down their coats and palm leaves, I could not help but mock the “victorious warrior” riding on his mighty steed!
As he preached in Jerusalem I would laugh at all the people hanging on his every word; I heard Him speak a couple times and it was all riddles and parables. I would think to myself, why not just say what you mean. The Pharisees were always there trying to make Jesus contradict himself or Moses’ laws, which was always good for a laugh, but somehow Jesus never failed to have an answer for them. In fact, He often ended up making the Pharisees look like fools. I never understood it at the time, but now, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I can see what He was saying back then and how He was delivering people through those ‘odd’ teachings.
On the third day of that week, after killing someone during an argument, I was arrested and sentenced to die at the end of the week. As I sat in my cell, unable to lay back because of the lashes Pilate gave me, I just waited for the Day of Preparation, when I would be killed. After a few days, I could hear a mob outside the jail. I was trying to get some sleep because it was late. Finally able to get a glimpse of what was going on, I could not believe my eyes. The Pharisees, followed by countless people were demanding that Jesus be crucified! What could have happened that the same man these same people were adoring and welcoming into the city as a savior just a few days ago is now standing in front of the Roman governor with crowds of people wanting him to die?
The sound was deafening: “Crucify Him, crucify Him…” then what happened next was even more inexplicable, the guards grabbed me from my cell and brought me out in front of the crowd next to Jesus. When Pilate gave the people a choice between releasing Jesus or releasing me, I figured it was no contest. There was no way they were going to let a man like me go free
over someone who openly preached and taught, who at any time could have been arrested, and whose only “crime” was that he said He was the king of the Jews.
However, the mob actually chose to release me! Pilate, for what it was worth, gave them more than one chance to change their minds, but the chief priests threatened to expose Pilate to Caesar as a traitor if he let Jesus live, saying that the Jews only recognize Caesar as king in Jerusalem. It was clear that Pilate did not want to condemn this man, but he gave in to the mob, ordering me free and Jesus to be flogged. I could not even move for a couple of seconds, it did not seem real. Then after my shackles were removed, I hugged Jesus and sarcastically said something like “sorry about your luck”. He whispered in my ear that He chose to lay down His life in my place, so that I could live eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven. My clothes covered in His blood, I met the crowd to jeers and insults, but at least I was free. To be sure I was truly free, because that man that I mocked and insulted, to whom I had never spoken before, chose to die so that I could live. I knew very little about the Kingdom of Heaven, but I knew in my heart that I was grateful. As I walked away, my heart was flooded with feelings of love and peace and forgiveness, and I knew without a doubt that Christ Jesus truly was the messiah, the Son of God.
I kept thinking about what Jesus said to me. Here is a man who has never done anything wrong, who has only helped those that He met, healing people, raising the dead, casting out demons; how can they kill a man who is blameless and let a wretch like me go free? Jesus literally took my place on a cross at Golgotha. I deserve to die for the sins that I have committed against God and man. Jesus chose to die in place of me? Why? I thought about these things while I followed the condemned on the way to Golgotha. I could not explain it at the time, but I knew in my heart that I was a changed man, and I had to witness the Lord give His life as a substitute for mine.
By the time Jesus had made the journey up to Golgotha, I was amazed that he was still standing; He had been flogged and beaten, and the soldiers had even wrapped a vine of thorns to be like a crown, and impaled it into His head. He was unrecognizable, He did not even look like a man anymore. Jesus dropped His cross, collapsing to the ground, and the soldiers moved Him into position. I felt like demanding that Jesus be freed and that I take my rightful place on the cross, but as I made my way to the front of the crowd and looked in Jesus’ eyes as they prepared to nail in that first spike, I understood that He had to do this, that there was more to this happening than I could understand. So I stood, and watched, and wept. What I saw next I will never forget; as the soldier with the hammer drove the first spike into Jesus’ hand, He yelled out, saying: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Forgive them! Forgive them; after all they have done to Him and He still offers forgiveness.
It was the 6th hour when they raised up the three crosses, and the sun was shining bright as it would on any day at midday. Suddenly, the skies were dark as night. It stayed like this for three hours, while Jesus continued to be mocked and spat upon, even by the other men dying with Him. Above Jesus’ head hung the crime Pilate “convicted” Him of written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin so that all who were passing by could read it: Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews. I could hear some of the priests arguing with Pilate about how it was worded, they wanted it to say “he said he was the King of the Jews”, but Pilate told them that what was written was
written. I had no fear moving about the crowd between Pilate, and Jesus, and the guards; what were they going to do, kill me? I deserved to be on that cross anyway. As the 9th hour approached, I could tell that Jesus was having more and more trouble breathing, and at last He called out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the people started talking saying things about thinking He was calling out to Elijah, and a soldier dunked a sponge stuck on a spear made from a hyssop branch into a filled with bitter wine and water and offered it to Christ. He put it to His lips and Jesus turned his head and said “It Is Finished.”
Many of the Jews were worried about the three men on the crosses that day taking too long to die since sundown was the beginning of a very special Shabbat, (Passover,) so a couple of soldiers grabbed the hammers that they used to nail Jesus to the cross, and broke the legs of the other two men so that they would suffocate quicker. When a soldier came up to Jesus, he could see that Jesus was indeed dead, so instead he took a spear and thrust it in Jesus’ side. Then blood and clear liquid sprayed from the wound, showing him that Jesus had given up His life.
I thought it would be over, that they would just take the men down and bury them, but as soon as Jesus breathed His last, there was lightning and thunder. There were earthquakes that shook the city and even split rocks in two, and I heard that in the temple, where only the high priest can go, the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the outer area was torn all the way down into two pieces. Back on the mount, I heard one of the soldiers say that: “Truly this was the Son of God.” I had been given that revelation only hours before.
I am humbled and honored to have played a role in the fulfillment of Christ’s work to grant salvation to all of His saints. Jesus forgave me, the worst of the worst, and has been using me to share in the good news of His Kingdom. I pray always for those who have not yet heard or understood His gospel. I, like my brother Paul has taught, strive to be all things to all people so that they may see Christ in me and desire to know Him. God once sent Jonah to your fathers, whom, after being spat out of that great fish after three days, delivered God’s message of repentance. Christ also used Jonah’s experience as an example to those who did not believe, saying, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.” Jonah was resurrected from the fish after three days, proving himself to be a prophet of God. Christ was resurrected from death and the tomb after three days, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, proving to all that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, who not even death can defeat.
I hope this letter finds you well and prospering. I am sending Gaius ahead of me to deliver this letter so that you may have his help in rebuilding after the terrible storm. He is a master carpenter and smith, and eager to serve.
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. Thank you, amen.