Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified Mark 15:15 (NIV)

Waiting – a fat lot of good that will do! We’ve been waiting for the Messiah to deliver us from the Romans for centuries . . . and where is He? Nowhere! That’s why some of us took matters into our own hands – swore an oath to rid the country of the accursed invaders. I joined the Sicarii (Dagger Men) to battle for our freedom – to fight this holy war. And I did what had to be done . . . I struggled to remove every Roman from our land!

That’s what led to me being shackled in Pilate’s jail, waiting for the inevitable, waiting to be executed. I was captured during the uprising, but not before I managed to kill several of them. It was my blood for theirs and I was prepared to be martyred for our cause . . .

Then early on Friday morning word was passed around the jail that they’d brought Jesus in. You know, the priest, Jesus Bar Joseph from Nazareth. The religious leaders were vehemently accusing him; trying to get Pilate to execute him as an enemy of Rome. They said he was inciting our people to rebellion and trying to subvert our nation. Nonsense! If he was, we’d have been operating together. No, he’s nothing more than a misguided fanatic – a nonconformist with pie-in-the-sky ideas about loving our enemies!

But enough said about his strange ideas. What matters is that things took a turn for the better for me. A guard came, unshackled the chains, and presented me to Pilate. I quickly discovered that the Prefect planned to let someone go free, as was the custom at the Feast, and he asked the crowd who they wanted released. They were given two choices – Jesus or me. In my wildest dreams I never believed it possible. Against all odds the crowd convinced Pilate to liberate me. One minute I was staring death in the face and the next I was free.

The guard was furious. He kicked me viciously in the kidneys and I was sent sprawling. Quickly getting to my feet I wasted no time in slipping unobtrusively through the crowd. I was anxious to get away. For all I knew Pilate was surreptitiously ordering one of his men to slip a knife under my ribs. Thanks be to God, it wasn’t to be. Hours later, in a safe place, I began to reflect on what had happened. The perversity of it all wasn’t lost on me. Unbelievably I’d been released and Jesus, having done nothing to deserve death, had been led off to be crucified . . . to be crucified in my place!

That was three days ago. I still can’t get over my good fortune; my chance at a second shot at life. I’m still grappling with it. Why does an innocent man die and why am I, the one with blood on his hands, set free?

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