I am Barabbas

I am Barabbas

As we begin to walk through the holiest of days of the Church, we will take time to recall the most fundamental truths that make Christians Christians and turn sinners into saints.

We will revisit in various ways, through many different traditions, the events leading to the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, the son of man.

As we look at the Gospel narratives, we are introduced to a full cast of characters whom we only know because of the parts they played in this great story of redemption. I think of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who, though having repeatedly declared Jesus innocent, still condemned him to death. Then, in a fit of irony, he “took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man's blood’” (Matthew 27:24, ESV), only to be remembered throughout generations in the creeds of the Church as the one under whom Christ was crucified.

I also think of the man named Barabbas. When Pilate weakly tried to release Jesus as the prisoner to be spared, the crowds chose Barabbas instead. I wonder what this murderer thought as he freely slipped away into the night as Jesus meekly submitted to the nails pounding into his flesh. I wonder if it dawned on him that he had just experienced the greatest cosmic swap of all time. I wonder if he later understood that he had been involved in yet another murder.

So, Barabbas,
        where did you go
            when the crowd cheered
               and you walked away
           where did you go
               when your life was restored
                     and your crime was excused,
            where did you go
                 when his body hung high
                       and his blood poured out
                                               for yours?

As I consider these thoughts about Barabbas and after I have judged him and held him in contempt for his undeserved redemption, it becomes horrifyingly clear to me that, in the end, I, too, am Barabbas.

I am Barabbas,
Chosen by the crowd.
He is Jesus,
Abandoned for this hour.

I am Barabbas,
The guilty one set free.
He is Jesus,
Who died instead of me.

Carol Dowsett is a career missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators and a professional communications consultant, having worked for nearly 25 years in global communication leadership roles. She has served with agencies such as Wycliffe International, SIL International, Forum of Bible Agencies International, Bible League International, Christar, and the Well Community. She is a frequent teacher of Reflective Bible Studies and has been a lay leader of women's discipleship and prayer ministries in various churches. An advocate to the Church for mental health awareness, she has served as a support group leader with Mental Health Grace Alliance. With her family, she lived in Nairobi, Kenya for three years and now makes her home near Dallas, Texas. Married for 45 years, she and Jim have four adult children and six grandchildren.