by Andrew Sbarra

Fear is crippling when you’re alone in a dark cell awaiting your execution. You’re left with all too many minutes to think about where you went wrong. I started out with good intentions. All I wanted was to be free from the oppression, free from this corrupt government, I did this for my people. At least that’s what I tell myself. Murder wasn’t part of the original plan. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. “I was a respected military man. How did I end up here?” Seconds later I can hear the roar of a mob outside shouting my name.

I have nothing left in me to handle the terror as the guards come for me. The steady cadence of their march down the hall draws louder till they stop at my cell, and with it, my heart stops, too. Their keys rattling in the lock and the hinges as the cell door swings open scream, just as I do on the inside. I am dragged by my shackles down the hall like an animal.

As I am about to be led outside I pass another prisoner, but not one of my men, no one I know. Our eyes meet for a second, or what I can see of his eyes. His face is swollen and dripping with blood, his hair matted red where it seems bits of his flesh has been torn from his skull. In that split second, the one thing I notice is his peace compared to my fear; perhaps they beat all of the fear out of him.

In the next moment, I am standing before the mob waiting for my eyes to adjust to the sun light. My time has come, here I am face to face with my jury. Only, to my surprise, instead of insults and fueled anger, I am met with cheers and praise. My heart sinks when I hear the announcement, “Here is your choice, the murderer Barabbas!” The guard unlocks my chains and says, “Released.”

What must have Barabbas felt in that moment? Confused, relieved, unworthy? I think it’s very easy to overlook Barabbas or consider him lucky, but Barabbas represents all of us. We are undeserving of grace and freedom through the redeeming power of Christ. I can only assume that Barabbas would have asked who was the man that took his place and what awful thing did he do. As well, he probably would have heard the stories of his resurrection days later. What impact would that have had on his life? Regardless if he would later come to believe that Jesus was Messiah, one thing I am sure is he was thankful everyday to have been given a pardon on death that he deserved. What impact has Christ’s sacrifice had on your life? Have you thanked Jesus today for choosing you despite your wrongs?