Friday 12-23-16, Modesto, California, USA
Today we read John 15 - 18
S. John 18:38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, "He is not guilty of any crime. But you have a custom of asking me to release someone from prison each year at Passover. So if you want me to, I'll release the King of the Jews." But they shouted back, "No! Not this man, but Barabbas!" (Barabbas was a criminal.)
O. I am portraying Barabbas in a drama. In order to play the part well, I have to know this man. I read and study his story. His name is referred to 17 times in the Bible.
Now… now I am Barabbas. I sulk in a rotten cell awaiting my crucifixion. “Soon they will come for me to whip my back into hamburger and I will be forced to carry my own cross to that wretched hill. What’s all that screaming I hear out there.” I lift my head and listen. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” They are calling for my death! The leaders of the Jews are calling for my death! Don’t they know I was leading an insurrection to rescue them from this filthy Roman government?”
Now I hear the footsteps of the heavy boots of my prison guard. “It’s all over now!” The huge key is turning, chains are rattling. A gruff voice shouts, “Hey you, Barabbas! Yeah you! You ugly scum! Come here! Am I going to have to come in there and pull you out!” I drag myself through my own excrement as I exit. I am waiting for the blows to strike me. Instead the guard says, “Get out of here! Run for your life! We don’t want to see you in here again! You are free! The Man called Jesus, the Messiah, the ‘King of the Jews’ has been condemned to be beaten and die in your place!” I cry out, “What is this? Is it only a cruel joke?”
I run, but I can’t run far, because I want to see the face of the Man who is dying in my place. Now I see Him. He is tied to that post and they are whipping Him to death. “Stop! You cruel guards! That’s enough! Do you want to kill Him with a whip?” I can’t make myself escape from the scene. I follow him to that wretched hill. I hear Him cry out, “Father, please forgive these evil men, for they really don’t know what they are doing.“
A. By now I am a bucket of tears. And I am no longer Barabbas. My name is Ralph and I am a sinner condemned to die… with hell’s flames awaiting me. But Someone named Jesus took my place and is dying up there on that wretched hill for my sins.
P. Can you hear me, Lord Jesus? Why did You do it? I was not worth the cost. Love? What is love? Can there really exist a love that great? If so, I ask You to fill my heart with that same love and let me give my life for You. Amen.