Barabbas - A Monologue

Barabbas should be dressed in a Bible costume or alternatively something that denotes he has been a prisoner.    You may like to dim lights with just one focusing on the character of Barabbas.  He should be contemplative in his speech.  Remember that the subject of Jesus’ death is an important topic and needs to be dealt with in a sensitive and meaningful manner.

(Come onto stage shaking head.  Rolled up under arm is a poster)

I still can’t believe it.  I mean, why did he do it?  Why did he take my place?  (Shake head again)  It just doesn’t make sense. 

I guess I’d better introduce myself.  Barabbas is the name.  But I guess you probably know that already from all the wanted posters that have been plastered around.  (Show wanted poster)

(Boastful)  I’m not really the most popular man in these parts.  My band and I are rather notorious actually.  You may have heard of the Jericho uprising.  A group of us held a protest rally against the Roman occupation and it turned it turned into quite a scuffle.  Well, I was the ringleader in that one. 

And the road between Jerusalem and Jericho has not been a safe place to travel ever since my men and I took up residence there.  I’m sorry to say now that we were responsible for quite a number of robberies along that stretch of road.  Killed men once or twice, too.  We tried to just target those supporting the Romans but nevertheless… (taper off as if unable to continue justifying actions) 

So I guess it’s really no surprise that two of my accomplices and I eventually got caught.  They threw the book at us – said we deserved the very worst punishment they could think of.  So they sentenced us to die on a cross – a slow and agonizing death.  A nail through each hand, one in the feet and left to hang until finally… yeah, well I guess you get the picture. 

It was decided that this would all happen just before Passover.  Everybody was going to be in town so it was a good time to show them all what the authorities do to rebels like us. 

Well, on the day of the execution the three of us were in a holding cell near Pilate’s palace.  While we were there this new prisoner was thrown in with us.  He had been treated quite badly – he had bruises all over him from a pretty hefty beating he had taken.  I heard the soldiers were responsible which doesn’t surprise me. 

It was quite ironic but he was accused of leading an uprising just like I was but he certainly wasn’t like me.  I could tell just by looking at him that he had never done anything wrong.  There was no way he was capable of doing any of the rotten things I had done. 

The most incredible thing was that he didn’t speak a word to defend himself – as if he was resigned to taking whatever was coming. 

I had heard a bit of the rabble outside so I began to throw a few taunts myself.  “If you are indeed the Son of God, why don’t you just burst your way out here?  And while you’re at it – let us out at the same time,” I chortled.   He didn’t respond in any way but somehow it just didn’t seem right to continue. 

Seems though that this man was causing quite a stir – both Pilate and Herod seemed unconvinced of his guilt – but the crowd and most certainly the Sanhedrin weren’t going to let him go easily. 

I had heard the roar of the crowd earlier as they let up this chant of “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  You’d have thought it was me outside – not him. 

Eventually both he and I were led out before the crowd.  It was Pilate’s custom on important occasions to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd, you see, and Pilate wanted them to choose between us. 

Well, it was a one man contest as far as I was concerned with me most definitely the loser.  There was no way, you’d think, they’d let me out to roam the countryside again and I guess that is what Pilate thought too.  But when he asked, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”, a unanimous roar of “Barabbas” filled the streets below.  I was nearly knocked backwards by it all – I just couldn’t believe it.  I mean, it was obvious who the guilty one was and it certainly wasn’t him. 

Then Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do then, with the one you call the King of the Jews?” 

“Crucify Him!”, they shouted back and there was no way you could doubt their conviction. 

So here I am – released.  And hanging on a cross between my two mates is this man.  He’s there in my place.  The nails that should have been hammered into my hands and feet were hammered into his.  And a sign “The King of the Jews” placed where it should have said “King of the Robbers”. 

I can’t understand it – I don’t think I ever will.  It certainly wasn’t fair but this man Jesus died in my place.

updated 10 September, 2013

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