Friday, April 29, 2011

A Short Story: A Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Part Four

I wrote this short story several years ago, but because of the Easter holidays we dug it out again. I am reminded afresh of what this story is all about.

When you hear the passion story do you place yourself into the story some how? Do you identify with someone in it? Do you feel like you are Peter, denying Christ in the heat of inquiry? Are you like Simeon, helping out Jesus by lifting his burden a bit? Are you a mother, weeping for her child dying in the most unjust way imaginable? Are you Mary, the first to the tomb after He rose? Are you like Thomas, who won't believe until he sees the miracle for himself? You could be like Joseph of Arimathea who didn't boldly come out as a follower of Christ but was sympathetic to the cause and in the end invested in it. Maybe you once were one of the enemies who hated Jesus and His people and then saw a great light and now you are one of His strongest advocates like Paul the apostle.

Those are the good guys, but what about some of the bad guys? Are you Pilate, who can't fathom that there is an absolute truth and ends up tragically condemning Christ for us all? Are you one of the people mocking Jesus saying, "If you are the Christ, save yourself?" Are you an opportunistic Roman soldier hoping to win some garment in a game of chance? Perhaps you are like one of the thieves on the cross next to him and you find it easier to vent your hatred against someone else than actually face your own responsibility. Or you could be on the other side of the cross, calling out to the Savior with you last breath regretful for years of rebellion.

When it comes to the passion story, I identify most with Barabbas. His story is found in the following passages: Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:17-25; John 18:39-40. There is not a lot said about him. We don't even know whether to place him in the "good guys" camp or the other one, do we? Why would I identify with him?

I most identify with Barabbas because it was his cross that Jesus bore. Jesus died in his place. He was actually the one guilty and deserving of the punishment, but he was set free because the Savior took his place. That, my friends, is me. I am Barabbas.

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since by His blood He did all this for us sinners, how much more shall He do for us now that He has declared us not guilty? Now He will save us from all God's wrath to come." -
Romans 5:8-9 (Living Bible)

"I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
-Galatians 2:20 (Living Bible)

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