Summary: What does it really mean that Jesus died for us? There is a story of Jesus Barabbas who should die on the cross but his place was taken by Jesus Christ, God´s Son.

Today I want to tell you a story of a man whom we meet during the Lenten season but we don´t know him very well because his name just briefly shows up in the passion story.

This person made many unusual decisions in his life and tried some things that an ordinary person may never experience. Now, it is not important to know his name – maybe after a while you will figure out who this man was – but for your information – he lived in the time of Jesus. He, like many people of that time, experienced the domination and power of the Romans who ruined country after country, enslaved their people and robbed them of their freedom. He was one of the millions... – Here is what he says:

Every day as a boy I would see violent and arrogant behaviour of Roman soldiers who robbed and plundered everything that crossed their way. They took everything they liked even from those who were poor and literally had nothing. – These were exactly the things I had seen every day. I wasn´t from a wealthy family and I spent most of my young age on the street. That was the place where I met people who decided to do something against the Romans. I really admired them. They were my kind of people. They just didn´t want to sit back and watch what those barbarians would do to our nation. They were ready to act, return an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I was so proud when they allowed me to become a part of their group. – Soon we started to express our hatred by open warfare. We provoked. One day we attacked a small group of Roman soldiers and beat them. We understood it as a way to seek revenge for all that injustice and oppression they caused us.

As I got older – all that hatred and anger I held in my heart totally consumed my mind. We even tried to rouse other people to rise up against all that tyranny. – We urged them to take weapons and protect themselves against the Romans. – Some of them ignored us – but we also found those who were willing to join us. – As our group grew up we felt more and more confident but also violent. Once as we attacked a Roman´s garrison, I, being so full of anger, brutality killed a man. It may be that there were more people involved in that act but I didn´t care. I was not sorry about it at all. I justified my actions thinking I did it for my nation, remembering the phrase “This is a war and war always brings victims.” – After that I become a murderer and criminal who became dangerous even for the people who lived around me. I was hiding in the mountains and sometimes I felt as if I were a wild animal. – After a while I became like a heartless beast who didn´t trust anyone. – And you know what, I was right. One day when we decided to attack a military headquarters, one of my best friends betrayed me and I ended up in prison. – The military court took place the same day and I knew the result long before it was pronounced – “He is guilty. DEATH is the verdict.” I was sentenced to crucifixion and then thrown into a cell with two other criminals where I awaited my execution.

It was a very strange date to die. Right before Passover – the day my nation celebrates liberation from their slavery in Egypt. I would be nailed on the cross in sight of all those people who came to Jerusalem to celebrate this special event. My last breath would be a great theatre for all those I tried to save.

The night before the execution I couldn´t sleep at all. My life flashed before my eyes. Now I was not so sure if I had chosen the right path when I made the decision to join that violent group. I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. I recalled all the cruelty, brutality, and pain I caused to others. As I closed my eyes I could even see the faces of those poor people I killed. – I will never forget them. – Now, I was not so sure about all my actions. Even my brain refused to support the things I had done. In the prison cell I wasn´t a HERO anymore. I felt miserable – like a man who was totally useless, ignored, and rejected by everyone. I really thought I was doing it for them and now they were about to crucify me.

The day began around 5 o´clock and I was thinking to myself, “It is almost over. My end is so close. These are my very last hours.” From the courtyard I could hear some noise. It sounded like a crowd was yelling but I couldn´t understand a single word. After a few moments they quieted down. The Soldiers didn´t bring me any food. It didn´t make any sense to invest in someone whose life would soon end. My life didn´t have any value anymore. – I was a “nobody” my whole life. – I couldn´t even talk to those other prisoners who would die with me. But frankly, what would we talk about? Each of us was silent with our own thoughts.

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