Jesus or Barabbas

Jesus or Barabbas is a poetic meditation based on Matthew 27.17 in the Good News Bible. What happened to "Jesus Barabbas" in whose place literally "Jesus the Christ" died? Did he in fact join the watching crowd? For best effect it would be good to have the reader at a microphone in front and the two voices seated at the side before a microphone. A person good at expressive acting, if available, could characterise Barabbas.

So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to set free for you? Jesus Barabbas or Jesus called the Messiah?" (Matthew 27.17, G.N.B.)
READER:"Barabbas!" they cried,
"We want Barabbas!
Barabbas the troublemaker,
Barabbas the murderer!
Crucify this Jesus,
This King of the Jews!
Release the murderer!
We want Barabbas!"

So Jesus died ­
Barabbas was free.

VOICE 1:He's innocent, Barabbas.
He died in your place,
For your sins, Barabbas!
VOICE 2:If you had died, Barabbas,
Your death had been just,
Like your two friends there.
But he's innocent, Barabbas.
His death is not for his sins
But for yours.
VOICE 1:If you had died, Barabbas,
The world had lost one criminal,
But in his death
You ­ and the world ­
Have gained a Redeemer.
READER:Drawn by fascination
Into the watching crowd,
Trying to be nobody,
Yet very conscious
Of himself,
Come crashing in
As that Man dies!
VOICE 2:He is alive, Barabbas!
Haven't you heard?
The cross would have finished you,
But not Jesus!
VOICE 1:That means
We haven't finished with him
By that cross.
VOICE 2:They wanted you, Barabbas,
Instead of Jesus,
And he died instead of you,
But he was innocent.
VOICE 1:He wants you, Barabbas,
Sinner though you are!
VOICES 1 & 2:Won't you say to him,
"Not Barabbas but Jesus!"?
READER:It is not told
What Barabbas thought of Jesus,
Or if this one
Who shared a name
Ever came to share a life.
Yet for us all
There stands a choice ­
To choose the broken
Or the One who mends,
To choose the sin
Or sin's Redeemer!

Won't you say to him,
"Not Barabbas but Jesus"?

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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