Though routine the soldiers’ work on top of the hill attracted onlookers. There they labored, planting stakes and laying out the timbers that would form the stands for some rough crosses. The sun devoured the morning fog, and from that hill one could see the beginning of an intense Friday in Jerusalem.
Across the city two other soldiers approached the cell of a rebel whose day had come. It was routine for these soldiers too, yet with Jerusalem swollen for Passover, tensions were high and the soldiers weary.
Flies to Freedom
One of the soldiers unlocked the heavy door, the noise enough to startle the prisoner sitting timidly in the damp corner. The man looked tired, his body was swollen from beatings. The cell was foul, and the buzz of ever-present flies rang in his frightened ears. For the rebel, going to that hill across the city would be more a blessing than a curse.
But it was not to be. Grabbing him by each arm, the soldiers pushed him against the wall. “You are being released, Barabbas!” declared one. “The governor is crucifying some Galilean in your place; a carpenter turned prophet. What a shame! Follow us and keep quiet!” The soldiers led Barabbas to the prison’s gate and hurled him into the street. There he picked himself up and walked away a free man. Head spinning, he stumbled aimlessly around the city hunting for food and contemplating where to go.
Soon Barabbas heard a ruckus near the temple. There he saw a large crowd lining the street. From around the corner soldiers appeared, red capes flowing behind them, and following them on hands and knees was the Galilean on whose back was a rugged, wooden crossbeam.
But How to Respond?
One wonders what was Barabbas’ response. Perhaps his eyes welled with tears. Watching the ragged man crawl down the stone road, Barabbas knew he himself should have been burdened with that crossbeam. Weeping, Barabbas thanked the God of Israel for his underserved freedom.
Or, perhaps Barabbas snickered as he watched that wretched man struggling with his load. The Galilean probably deserved it. With that, Barabbas turned and walked away. Hungry and worried about his next step, he had better things to do other than worry about the death of some foolish prophet.
What would be your response? You and I have so much for which to be grateful. Yet, in Jesus Christ we have something far surpassing earthly benefits. Like Barabbas, we should have carried that rugged crossbeam; yet Christ carried it for us, releasing us from sin’s prison. It is amazing what that Galilean carpenter did. Truly you and I should be more thankful for Him than anything else in our lives.