Easter! What does it mean to you?

No… not intellectually. At a heart level – what resonates inside of you? It’s interesting… as I am writing this, I am thinking forward toward the Easter weekend: the occasion in our church calendar.  But I recall my emotions last year, when “in” the 3-day Easter period.  It was sobering, a remembrance close to home – not at an emotional level, but at a soul level.  There is nothing more humbling than casting thoughts to an event that literally gave you eternal life!

Now let us helicopter back 2 thousand years, to April ±AD33 (Passover Week).  Not as a remembrance; but imagine having actually lived it – you were there! What would Easter mean to you then, as a believer? Perhaps we can understand the response of Cleopas on the road to Emmaus, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:18). Let us move one step closer… what if you were Barabbas, the ‘notorious murderer’ set free so that Jesus would be crucified instead? Yes, I thought that would get our attention!

We are not told of how Barabbas responded in those days, but let us put on our creative lenses for a few minutes – and journey through what could have been in that diary of old:

DIARY OF BARABBAS.

Sometime before the Passover week…

“I remember those chains.  My wrists still flinch at the rubbing, the constant grip that seemed to pull every time I tried… Worse than the restraint was not being able to kick out in anger over the revolution, the frustration of defeat and deathly hopelessness.  I remember the panic, the anguish, sweat like drops of blood – I knew what was coming. I couldn’t stomach what they were going to do to me; yet couldn’t claw the thoughts out of my mind. I must have cried out to God 70 times 7 times; cheeks numb – my brain would hurt… my heart in pieces.

Passover, Thursday night… the rumours crawled through the prison as if carried by the rats themselves…

They arrested the prophet – the man they call Jesus. But why? Yes… his miracles and teachings have made him popular, but do they have cause to arrest him? I hear he was questioned by both Annas and Caiaphas, and they are calling him guilty – what charge makes him worthy of these restraints?

Passover, Friday morning…

They’re at it again – this time it’s the whole Sanhedrin. They’re questioning Jesus but he’s saying nothing – does he not know how powerful the Sanhedrin is? Why is he not defending himself?

…Just heard, Jesus was questioned by Pilate (twice) and even Herod questioned him… again, does he not know that Pilate has the power to release him or crucify him? He refuses to defend himself. I remember my trial – for all I had done, I defended myself until my voice was nothing more than a whimper.  I begged them to reconsider, to give me grace – anything else but this!  Jesus has said nothing to quieten this mob outside. Pilate doesn’t want to convict Jesus… but he says nothing and they have their minds set, as if the very fate of the world depended on it!

{What! I’m free? FREE TO GO…}

I watched from a safe distance, as they tore into Jesus’ body, they mocked Him, punched Him, made His head bleed so badly I couldn’t recognise him anymore.  Huge crowds followed Him once again, Him and that man they call Simon – carrying that horrible cross; they broke into Him once more and lifted His body into the air, what looked like an innocent man between two thieves – and only 9 in the morning. They were cruel; He remained gracious. They mocked, gambled for His clothes like thieves; He prayed for God to forgive them.

And then the moment that shook me to my core… those fateful words, ‘It is finished!’ My soul jumped as if reborn to new life. “He just died for me!” How…why… questions and more questions, but never have I felt so certain, so alive, so convicted. I felt the earth shake below my feet; the skies were still dark, but even in the darkness, I saw so much light, as if I could see right into the Holy of Holies, and for the first time, I was invited to enter.  He just died for me!

Passover, Sunday morning…

Awaking to the ground shaking again, I felt like ‘death’ had lost a global battle of the ages. Everything changed, and now I could really see, as if scales had fallen from my eyes. I had been so focussed on those prison chains tugging away at my wrists and ankles, I failed to see the chains wrapped around my heart. Yes, those chains were now broken, and I could see an eternity ahead of me – a forever eternity… and with Him, forever!

Jesus crafted His beautiful creation at the beginning of days, carefully forming us in the image of His Father. He watched in pain as sin slithered into the hearts and minds of His creation. He continued to thread His divine plan through millennia of hope, doubt, faith, failure, triumph and defeat, always preparing the way for His own birth and life as a perfect man – the Son of Man. He took His promise to the cross, and saved what He had created in the Ancient of Days. His blood was spilled for us – in full payment for our sin – past, present and future. Jesus then adopted us as sons and daughters, fully justified, forever redeemed back to our Father God, to live in perfect harmony, with Him… forever… and forever!

This Barabbas story… is this your story?

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