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Barabbas' Mother
by Laurie Kiel 
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Barabbas’s Mother

By Laurie Kiel

Oh Jonas, I never thought I'd find myself caring about the death of a Jewish rabbi. But then, I've never known a rabbi like that Jesus.

What are you looking at, child! Can't a woman talk to her dead husband if she wants to. Go on and get out of here. What did you just say? “Don't cry?” Wipe the dust out of your eyes, child, you're seeing things! Imagine that Jonas, she thought I was crying. Our family is tough as sandal leather and NOTHING makes us cry. Maybe if I were a little less cantankerous I'd have some friends to talk to instead of my dead husband. Nah, too old to change. Nobody could understand me like you did, Jonas. And nobody would understand me following a Jewish rabbi all over the countryside. Not that I really followed him you understand, I just happened to show up in a lot of the same places he did.

Jesus’ sayings still buzz around in my head like a pesky gnat. He said the strangest things, the opposite of everything you and I eve believed. Blessed are the meek--for they shall inherit the earth. We always taught our boy; foolish are the meek--for they shall be trod upon! Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after--righteousness? No! Blessed are they who hunger after riches--for they shall be wealthy! We taught our boy to be like us, tough as sandal leather, and nothing makes us cry. Jesus, on the other hand, cried over Jerusalem and when his friend died. He was the opposite of everything we taught our boy to be--and yet--he was exactly what in my heart, I always wished our boy could be..

Oh Jonas, I wish you could have met this Jesus. He wasn’t afraid of the Pharisees or the Romans! Just like our son, Barabbas! Well, maybe not just like Barabbas...

You should see the things Jesus did ...opening the eyes of the blind, healing lepers---and even raising the dead! And what's more amazing...he forgave sins! There was one time...just after he forgave a prostitute--can you believe it, a prostitute! I nearly went to him. In fact, it seemed that Jesus was looking right at me. But that couldn't be...I was standing behind a tree...when I don't want to be seen, nobody sees me. I wanted to go to Jesus...but I was afraid..Hey! You didn't hear me say that! Go stare at somebody else! Can't you see I’m having a private conversation! Jonas, I wish that child would stop trying to interrupt us. Anyhow, I don't know what I was more scared of--that Jesus would turn me away...or that he wouldn't.... It’s too late now. ...mebbe if he'd come a few years earlier, you wouldn't be dead from a knife fight, and our son Barabbas wouldn't have nearly gotten crucified.

It’s Passover. Not that it makes much difference to me. One day is pretty much the same as another without you, Jonas. Remember when you and I talked about Passover, and I said, "What if, Jonas, what if the blood of a lamb really could take away our sins. A fresh start! A new beginning." You laughed at me and called me a dreamer, and said it would take a lot more than the blood of a lamb. You were right, I suppose it would take a perfect sacrifice...not much chance of finding that around here. Especially now.

Oh Jonas, oh Jonas, I wish you were really here and not just in my head! The Romans arrested Jesus. His own disciple betrayed him! Those disciples of his are worthless. As if it wasn't bad enough to have one betray him, and the others scatter like mice when the cat comes in, that blowhard Peter denies he even knew Jesus not just once but three times! I thought I was surely the loneliest person in the world--with you dead and Barabas condemned....but who could have felt lonelier than Jesus?

It all happened when I went walking after sharing the Passover with my new friends. Oh, I didn’t tell you about them, did I? You’ll never believe this, Jonas, but Mary, the mother of Jesus, actually invited me to spend Passover with her and some friends. She told me that Jesus asked her to. So, well, after Passover, I just had to get some fresh air...my head was buzzing...and NOT with the Passover wine....maybe I was wrong...about so many things. Mary and those other women--they didn't act like they thought they were better than me. They welcomed me. Just like I saw Jesus welcoming everybody. I was thinking that maybe I should go to Jesus next time he was preaching...there's so much to think about...that's why I had to come out to get some fresh air...I must have walked for miles! That's what I got for not watching where I was going...I wound up in some garden and saw Jesus praying. And wouldn't you know...those disciples of his, asleep while Jesus is praying...the woods are full of Jesus' enemies...and some protection those sleepy disciples were..

Oh Jonas, it was awful. It was like I had turned to a statue, and I could do was watch...I saw the soldiers come, and arrest Jesus. It's not like I've never seen anybody get arrested before. I was there when they came to arrest our son, Barrabas--the sergeant of the guard has my claw marks on his face to prove it! I suppose I'm lucky not to be in a cell next to Barabbas...As I watched the soldiers arrest Jesus--I couldn't help but think about my son's arrest. Barabbas fought like a caged animal, snarling his defiance, until sheer force brought him down. But with Jesus, I saw an entire regiment fall back with just a word from Jesus. If anyone could have defied the Romans and won...it would have been Jesus. And he hadn't done anything! He's an innocent little lamb! No! They can't kill him. He's an innocent lamb... lamb.. .Passover.... innocent... sacrifice....

I remembered somebody told me once that the Romans give up one prisoner for the Passover, surely the people would choose Jesus...I decided to go and join my voice with theirs. What's that I heard! The people are screaming...Barabbas??? Why were they calling our son's name? Pilate was asking the people to choose between my son and Jesus? And they chose Barabbas! My love for my son floods up inside my chest, and I want to join my voice to the animal throng roaring Barabbas's name. But I can't. I want to cry Jesus’ name. to beg the governor to spare him instead of my son...but I can't do that either.

I always thought of myself as being in control...but right now, I don't know what to say, or what to do, or what to even think..... my world has turned upside down and inside out.

I couldn’t bear to go to the crucifixion, Jonas. I couldn’t go up there and see Jesus on the cross, knowing that it could have been Barabbas on there…SHOULD have been Barabbas on that cross… For that matter, it should have been ME on the cross. Goodness knows I’ve done a hundred things worthy of a crucifixion. But Jesus was innocent! I couldn’t sleep all night…the words of John the Baptizer kept running through my head…do you know what John said about Jesus “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” But Jonas…how can I believe in a DEAD messiah!

For that’s what he is, Jonas. Dead. He’s been in the grave almost three days ago.

You again! I give up. Go on, what have you been trying to tell me all this time. Jesus is .. alive

No, I’m not crying, I’ve got a heart as hard as sandal leath—well, maybe I am crying. No don’t go. Come on, tell me more. Talk to you later, Jonas….or maybe not.


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