The story of the final hours leading up to Jesus’ death (the Passion of Christ) is nearly always told as a story of suffering and sacrifice, of what Jesus allowed to happen to him, since arguably he had the power to prevent be handed over from mob to mock trial to mob to the cross. Our focus during Lent is encouraged to be on how Christ suffered for us and the world and how through all of that, sin was forgiven.
But, what if we looked at it the opposite way? What if we considered what Christ did? How even those last few hours extended what he had always been doing?
In the last few hours, he
• Shared a communal meal with the friend (Judas) who would betray him
• Prayed with others, including the friend (Peter) he knew who would deny him
• Prevented violence (rebuked Peter for cutting off a guy’s ear)
• Healed one of the soldiers out to arrest him (put the ear back on)
• Resisted the desire to fight back or even label the slander for what it was
• Told the truth
• Saved Barabbas’s life dying in his place
• Forgave a convict sentenced to death
• Prayed for the forgiveness of the world
Barabbas's story blows me away. Here is a man who was part of an insurrection, a violent attempt at freedom from the Romans. Many of the Jews were hoping Jesus would lead a rebellion, too, that his "new kingdom" went only to the extent of "Jewish land without Roman occupation." Here is a man fighting to free his people, jailed, sentenced to death...whose life is literally saved when the crowd decides to release him instead of Judas. Yet another recipient of Jesus' grace. And I love the name: "bar" (or ben) = son, "abbas" = daddy.
I have a poem in his voice in my chapbook. I'll post it here soon.