I don’t know what’s happening to me! …..Why am I feeling this way?…..I have always been in control of things, always known where I was going and what I was going to do…..and…yes….to hell with the consequences of my actions.
And only yesterday I was in that filthy dungeon with all the trash of this city, just waiting….waiting…..waiting for that….that punishment that was going to be my lot.
And I don’t mind telling you I was terrified.
Oh yea!…..you don’t see any bravery or courage in that hell-hole, just men shakin’ and tremblin’ and the rest…..waiting to die and hoping that somehow they’ll do it before the dawn of that day…..that day of execution.
And this was my day….the day my life was going to end, not nice and quiet in me old age, but up there on a Roman gibbet, hanging for hours whilst the life-blood drained out of me and everything I’d ever done was accounted for.
And then, whilst I huddled there in the darkness with only the scuttling of the rats and the drip of the sewers for company, I heard something that made my heart bang in my chest and bile rise in my mouth. I heard the clumping of the boots and the rattle of the chain of keys and I knew the guard was coming toward my cell……..I knew my time was up.
And he opened the door and swung his lantern in my eyes and said ‘Barrabas bar Jesus’ (which is my full name from birth) so I scrambled up to my feet, to avoid a kicking if I didn’t respond immediately. And I staggered the length of my chain toward the direction of the lantern, even though I was as blind as a bat, what with not seeing the light of day for so long and everything………Then, just as I was waiting for the clamps to be put around my ankles to take me out to my death, he said something and started to fiddle around with my wrist clamps instead.
I thought I must be hallucinatin’ or something because what I thought I heard him say was ‘You’re free to go!’ And then I realised that the pressure on my wrists had loosened as he unlocked the key and the bolts opened and let my arms hang free. And I just stood there.
“Get out of ‘ere and don’t come back” he said, and gave me a shove into the dark alley toward a light. I was in a daze, I really didn’t know what was going on and I thought it was just another way of punishing me, that any moment someone would come an’ kick me to the ground and laugh their heads off as I riled in agony…..But it didn’t happen so I kept stumbling on….bouncing against the wet wall as I staggered along until I reached a light ahead, and I realised that it was the opening out onto the street and I could see the daylight.
I’ve been wandering around ever since. I have nowhere to go and nobody I can think of who would be pleased to see me on their door-step and anyway I doubt if I am fit to be near any decent human-being right now. I listened to the talk in the crowd and I found out I have been released because of some ancient law of Passover, and that another guy has been put up on the cross instead of me. I thought that was o.k at first…..he must have done something much worse than me, to get this punishment.
Then I heard them talking about him. All sorts of people, huddled, crying in corners and comforting one another. They talked about this Jesus guy who had done nothing but good and about how He was going to be their King and bring in another kingdom of love and forgiveness. Then I saw Him. On the road, carrying His cross, beaten and bloodied and done in. And the women were weeping and crying and reaching out to Him as if they needed Him to do something for them. And at one point He stopped and He spoke and He said to them ‘Don’t weep for me but for your children’ and there were tears in His eyes that were not for Himself.
So, I followed them up to the hill and I watched them put Him on the cross and I kept thinking; He must have done something, He must have done something……..this should be me up there…..I deserved to be punished, I am an evil man, I don’t deserve to live.
And then I looked at Him. I looked into his eyes, because I wanted to see something bad in them. I wanted to see that He hated the people who were doing these terrible things to Him. But I couldn’t see it I could only see love and compassion that I didn’t understand…….And then He spoke and He said ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they do’
And I broke, sobbing great gut-wrenching sobs and moaning like I was in terrible pain.
It should have been me up there…..it should have been me.
Chrystabell 2013 ©