I Once Played the Part of Barabbas

Let’s remember to insert ourselves into the story of Easter this year

And He died for all, that those who live might no longer liver for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.

2 Corinthians 5:15

I must have been in the second or third grade the year that my teacher at the small Christian school I attended told the class that we were going to do an Easter program, complete with a concert and reenactment of the Passion of Jesus.

It’s vague, but I can remember the excitement in the classroom as she began telling us about how we would be taking some time out of our normal daily schedule for several weeks to prepare for the big day.

I can remember when our teacher started assigning parts for the drama of the crucifixion and resurrection. Michael, my classmate, got to be Peter. Jill was chosen to play the part of Mary. Nick got to be Pilate, Sam played Jesus, and I….well, I got to be Barabbas, the criminal who was released instead of Jesus.

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

-Matthew 27:15-16

As we read the story together, I learned about my character. Barabbas was a well-known offender imprisoned for serious crimes. To play him, the teacher gave me permission to be as mean and ugly as I could be. I would have chains on my arms and legs and my robe was to be all torn up and tattered. She told me I would need to snarl and yell in anger. They even smeared dirt on my face and messed up my very blond bowl haircut.

Oh well, at least I got a part.

The guilty one who got to go free

It never occured to me until now, almost fifty years later, how much I actually have in common with Barabbas. Though our offenses are different, he and I are both offenders. He may have been the famous criminal who got released instead of Jesus, but by God’s standard, we are both guilty. He broke man’s law, but we both broke God’s law.

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. -Romans 6:23

But there’s another way in which I can identify with Barabbas. It is soley because of Jesus that Barabbas and I both found freedom. When the crowd got to choose that day who would be released, they chose Barabbas – not Jesus. So while Jesus faced execution at the hands of some hardened Roman soldiers – by crucifixion – Barabbas was pardoned and his chains were removed.

The same is true for me. Because of what Jesus did on the Cross as my substitute, the Bible says I am now fully pardoned and my chains are removed. Because He died, I now have life in its fullest sense.

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. -2 Corinthians 5:21

Yes, as it turns out, I am Barabbas in the story. I am the guilty one who got to go free. Thank you, Jesus.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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