"You can Go, now" I remember these words as if they were just spoken to me moments ago. In fact, it's been many years since I heard them. I'll never forget the occasion. The soldiers had brought a young man into the place where I was being held, waiting to be crucified. His clothes were bloody and striped where he had just been flogged. "Pilate's favorite game," I thought to myself. "It looks as if I'll have company on the hill today" But somehow flogging wasn't enough for this man. The soldiers threw him roughly to the floor.

What happened to him next reached onto the depths of depravity. The soldiers mocked him and beat on him. They dressed him in a discarded royal robe and bowed to him calling him King of the Jews. Then they got some thornbush and twisted the vines into a crown and jammed it onto his head. Blood ran into his eyes and mingled with his hair, matting it to his head as it dried. Red streaks lined his back and sides. His face was bruised and bleeding. His eyes were swollen almost shut. He was so battered that I thought that he wouldn't live long enough to go to the hill. Yet through all of this torture, He didn't utter a sound.

When the soldiers were through "playing" with him they dragged him, staggering blindly, through the door and out of the building. They had only been gone a moment or two when the centurion in charge returned. I thought "now it's my turn." My heart turned to stone as I faced the cruellest death the Romans could dream up. The centurion got the keys and unlocked my cell. The floor seemed as if it would fall from beneath me. I could hardly move. I placed one leaden foot ahead of the other and walked out of the door. The centurion pushed the door closed behind me and spoke those words: "You can go now. Your place has been taken by the King of the Jews." Suddenly, I realized that the young man who had suffered so much without a word had redeemed me. I am free now. I, Barabbas, am free, redeemed from a cruel death by a man I never knew. I know him now: He is Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews. I am redeemed.
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That short story was written by and is copyrighted by Robert J. Miller. Used by permission.
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I lived my life with reckless abandon, like there would be, no tomorrow. I lived life on the edge, engaging death as a playmate. If death came, then that too, I'd hoped in it's finality, would be the ultimate experience I craved. Maybe in death, I could finally realize the meaning of life.

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