Sunday, April 1, 2012

Barabbas: The Other Easter Story

Everybody knows the story of Jesus Christ, and how Pontius Pilate, the praefectus of Judaea, gave his Jewish subjects the choice between freeing Him or His fellow death-row inmate, Barabbas, in a prevailing Passover custom that allowed Pilate to commute the death sentence of one prisoner.  The praefectus did this by popular acclaim, and, as a result, the Jews chose Barabbas.  But what people don't know is why the Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus. 
     One theory, which most Bible scholars dismiss, is that since Barabbas' first name was also Jesus, Pontius Pilate got confused over whose name the Jews were calling out.
     "My Jewish subjects, I give you Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas.  Whom shall I free?" Pilate yelled at the crowd, and, looking down, noticed his hands were dirty.  "Man," he thought to himself, "first chance I get, I've got to wash my hands."
     "Jesus!"  the crowd called back.  "We want Jesus to go free!" 
     "Um...  which Jesus do you mean?"
     "The one we want to go free."
     "Yes, but they're both named Jesus.  Which one are you talking about?"
     "The one with the beard."
     "But they both have beards.  In fact, you all have beards.  Even the women.  Let me ask it another way:  Whom shall I crucify?"
     "Jesus!  Crucify Jesus!"
     "Yes, but which Jesus?  Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Barabbas?"
     "The one with the beard!  Let his blood be upon us and upon our children, but not upon our children's children, because we do not believe children should be having sex!"
     I always found it amazing how these Biblical crowds were able to all yell the same thing word for word.  While this story may be true, I tend to side with the biblical scholars who think it isn't.  And it has nothing to do with the money they paid me.
     What I think happened was that the Jews chose Barabbas because he was such a great guy.  Sure, he was a rapist, a thief, and a murderer, but he was also a lot of fun to be around.  Jesus Christ may have been the Son of God and all that, but He was always telling you what to do.  If you dropped a piece of parchment on the ground He would say, "Hey, pick that up.  Were you born in a barn?  Verily."  The irony that He, Himself, was born in a barn was lost on Jesus.  He was just too serious for His own good.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the guy you wanted to invite if you wanted your party to be a success.  He always brought the best wine.  Jesus may have once changed water into wine at a wedding, but His mother had to make Him do it. 
     "Jesus," His mother sweetly hinted, "this wedding blows.  They've run out of wine."
     "And what's it to Me?'" Jesus answered back, somewhat rudely.  Jesus also had the annoying habit of capitilizing all words referencing Himself.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the kind of guy who always bought drinks for the house.  He may have bought those drinks with gold picked from the pockets of the people sitting next to him, but, as long as he had a dollar in his pocket, you'd have a drink in front of you. 
     And if someone needed wine for a wedding, Barabbas wouldn't complain.  He was always more than happy to steal wine from the Roman guardhouse down the street.  When the Roman guards would eventually show up and kill everybody, Barabbas would already be long gone.  Off raping the bride somewhere.  Barabbas was never one to overstay his welcome.  I'm sure the bride, on some level, appreciated that.
     Barabbas would also protect the nerdy Jewish kids who were into the biblical equivalent of Star Wars.  "Don't worry," he'd tell them.  "If anybody messes with you, they're messing with me.  Now give me all your money." 
     And then he would rape them.
     If you needed to borrow Barabbas' chariot, he'd lend it to you.  You wouldn't even need a Roman driver's license.  If you were arrested later for riding around in a stolen chariot, hey, that was your problem.  Just make sure that, when you got out of the Roman jail, Barabbas had a chariot for the one you lost.
     If you were underage, and caught him outside of a liquor store, Barabbas would happily buy you a six-pack of Coors or a bottle of Boone's Farm.  "Just stay away from the hard stuff, kids," he'd warn.  "And drugs."
     Barabbas always told the best jokes, and was always the life of the party.  Jesus, on the other hand, was a bit of a wet mop.  Jesus liked to stand around and tell people what they were doing wrong.  "Hey," He'd say, "you're not supposed to re-dip the chip after you've already taken a bite out of it.  Verily." 
     Jesus wasn't interested in what anybody else had to say, mainly because, as the Son of God, He already knew what someone was going to say before they said it.  All He wanted was for Him to talk, and for you to listen.
     "Listen up," He'd say, "I'm telling you this for your own good.  Verily."
     No matter how wild the party, it would die the moment Jesus showed up.  Barabbas would be playing the piano and coaxing everybody into singing a bawdy song, while Jesus would wonder out loud, "Why isn't some girl washing My feet and drying them with her hair?"
     If you were at a bar, and had too much to drink, Barabbas would make sure you made it home safe and sound.  You're pockets might be empty of any gold they may have cointained, and every orifice on your body violated, but you made it home, didn't you?  Quit complaining. 
     And the next morning, while you were suffering from a hangover, what would Barabbas do?  Why, he'd bring you some chicken soup paid for with the gold he stole from you the night before.  If a person was sick or not feeling well, Barabbas would always come to visit to see how they were doing, and, as gesture of good will, he'd politely rape them before he'd leave.  It was his way of telling them, "Get better, little buddy."
     So, you see, the crowd of Jews who called for Barabbas' freedom, instead of the the freedom of the Son of God, had their reasons.  You may disagree with them, you may disagree with their reasoning, but you'd have to agree that your disagreement would be disagreeably disagreeable.
     After all, no one else tried to comfort Peter, one of Jesus' twelve apostles, after he denied Christ three times.  No one tried to comfort Judas, when he finally realized he had kissed a man the night before.
     "I'll never be able to join the Roman Army," he cried.
     "Here," Barabbas told him, "have some rope." 
     No one tried to comfort Mary Magdalene after the crucifiction.  No, really.  I'm telling you.  No one did.
     No one, that is, except Barabbas.

Fifty Shades of Funny 

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