The first section of Jeb’s Story can be found here. Jeb’s Story
…the story continues.
I was in the city with some friends and we heard that Jesus of Nazareth was creating a stir. A huge crowd had gathered and when I got near enough to see what was happening I could hear one of our priests encouraging the crowd to choose Barabbas to be freed instead of Jesus who is called the Christ. As you all know it is customary for Pilot to release a prisoner during the time of the feast. The priests kept saying to the crowd “Barabbas!” The angry mob began to shout over and over,”Give us Barabbas!” I am not sure why but I too joined the chorus, demanding that this hardened criminal be spared and that Jesus be executed.
I had known Jesus for several years, sort of at a distance. Twice I believe my inns had purchased tables from Jesus’ family carpenter shop. One of those times I myself spoke to him briefly inquiring about the tables. He was just an ordinary Jew. He was not handsome and I didn’t notice anything unusual about him. It was a few years later that I started to hear that he had gone mad. He was claiming to be God, the Messiah, and that he would overthrow the government and rule the Jews from David’s throne.
I felt only pity for him, the poor fellow had mental problems. But as time went on there were more and more stories about miracles, healing cripples, giving sight to the blind, and desecrating the temple and the Sabbath. He made outrageous claims about knowing Abraham, being equal with Jehovah, and that he was King of the Jews. My pity soon turned to anger. I hated this impostor who spoke against the chief priests, whose disciples broke the law, and ate with Samaritans and common sinners.
So on that day when Jesus was condemned to be executed by crucifixion I heartedly joined the others in calling for his death. I wanted the earth rid of this devil. I began to have an anger that I couldn’t explain and it surprised me. I am one who was usually just out for a good time and religion and politics did not move me.
I witnessed with my own eyes the brutal beatings, the humiliation, the mocking, the bloodshed before they put him on the cross. I was a willing participant even though I did not personally strike him or say anything but I did not object either.
When he was finally up on the cross and the roar of the crowd was at a fever pitch I felt an emptiness in my inner being. I admitted to myself for the first time that an innocent man was being put to death. He had really done nothing that deserved this.
I left for a while, drank several cups of wine with friends and came back to see if it was over yet. When I drew near I was astounded when he summoned the strength to say “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are dong.” Those words struck my soul. There had been a great injustice! This was all so wrong! I was so wrong.
to be continued…..