PART III CHAPTER 1: RESURRECTION
“There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
--Charles Dickens, from “A Christmas Carol”
Jesus was dead. There was no doubt about that. He had knelt at the foot of His cross and watched his life slip away. Yet, (at the end of Part II) it was he who had told Manaheem and Claressa at the market that He was alive. But, how did Barabbas know? How did he learn the joyous news?
Let’s go back to earlier in the week—to the third day after the crucifixion. It was fairly early in the morning. Deborah was walking the children to the synagogue for their lessons as usual when they spied a woman walking with fast gait coming from the opposite direction. As the woman grew closer, Deborah recognized her. “Mary of Magdala?”
“Yes, and who are y---oh, yes, I remember you. You were looking for Jesus that day. Did you find him?”
“Yes, we did. He prayed for us. And he spoke with such wisdom. It’s such a pity he had to die like that. My husband believes him to be the Messiah. I would have believed it too from the way he spoke, but how could he be the Messiah if he’s dead?”
“But He isn’t dead. He has arisen. I myself just saw him and spoke with him. I was just on my way to tell his disciples.”
“Are you absolutely sure it was Him?”
“I wasn’t until he called my name. No one can say my name the way He does. Oh, there’s no doubt about it. It’s Him.”
The children were all excited to hear that Jesus had risen. “Wow, Mommy, isn’t it great?”
Deborah just smiled and said, “I’ll have to tell Barabbas right away.”
“We’re having a meeting tonight,” Mary ventured, “at the home of John Mark—It’s the third house on the next street over. You’re welcome to come, and your husband too. Who knows, the master just might show up. Just ask for me when you come and I’ll introduce you to the rest. We have to be careful of the council, you know.”
“Thanks. I’ll think about. So long for now.”
“Wow, Mommy! We must tell Daddy. He will be thrilled.”
“I’ll stop by the shop on the way back and tell him. Now, you children be good and learn your lessons well today.”
Meanwhile, Barabbas had been wondering himself whether his new-found devotion was a bit hasty. Perhaps Deborah was right. How could he serve a dead man? He only knew that he had real peace for the first time in his life. He prayed every day for God above to show him what he should do next.
Fortunately, there were no customers when Deborah stopped at the blacksmith shop. Barabbas was happy to see her but wondered why she had come.
“I have great news, Barabbas. You know that man, Jesus, who was crucified?”
“You mean the one who took my place?”
“Exactly. Well, I met a woman this morning who says he’s alive—that she actually saw him and spoke with him.”
Barabbas couldn’t believe his ears. “Is she sure?—that it was really him, I mean.”
“She’s sure. She said she knew by the way he spoke her name. I guess if anyone should know it would be she. She’s the one out of whom He had cast seven demons. I met her for the first time on the road when I was taking the children to see Jesus and she told me about it. O’ Barabbas, it looks like you were right that he wouldn’t be dead very long. But how did you know?”
“Oh, it was just a feeling I had.”
“Anyway, you can see for yourself if you wish. She said the disciples are meeting tonight and she showed me where it will be. O’ Barabbas, why don’t you go? I’ll stay home with the children.”
Thus it was that Barabbas, the insurrection leader, thief, and murder was there with the disciples when Jesus appeared. He easily followed Deborah’s directions to the small unassuming house and knocked on the door. A man answered so he asked for Mary of Magdala. The door closed and in a moment opened again, answered this time by a woman.
“Are you Mary of Magdala?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I’m Barabbas. My wife told me I should ask for you. She had to stay with the children.”
“Of course. Do come in.” Then to everyone in the room, “Friends, this is Barabbas. I met his wife earlier and she told me he believes in the master.”
At this, a tall man in the back of the room stood up. “Barabbas? Aren’t you the one who led the insurrection against Pilate and killed the guard?”
“That’s him, alright,” said another. And aren’t you also the one who robbed and killed that poor old shopkeeper?”
“And,” chimed in a third man,” aren’t you the one they let go free instead of our master?”
“I am —or rather, was all of those things and more, but I’m a changed man now. When they released me, I went home, but then I turned around and went back to Calvary and knelt at the foot of His cross. I know he forgave me, and I promised I would serve him, whatever that involves. So here I am.”
Now the big man who had first answered the door stood and held out his hand to Barabbas. “Well, in that case, welcome brother. We’re glad to have you.”
Barabbas noticed that there were people there of all ages. There were mothers holding their little ones, small children who sat quietly, young boys, young couples, and older men and women. He took his place near the rear in order not to be too noticeable.
When they were all seated again, one man said: “We were just going over some of His teachings and miracles as we remember them.” Pointing to the tall man, he said “Peter here was just reminiscing about the time he fed 5,000 people with just five loaves and two fishes. That was really something, wasn’t it, Peter?”
“The tall man smiled as he replied, “Yes, but then later when we were on the sea, he told us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and we thought it was because we had forgotten to bring bread, but he reminded us of the miracle of the loaves and fishes and pointed out that he was actually talking about—“
But just then, there was a knock on the door and Mary went to open it. It was two more disciples, Simon and Cleopas. As they entered, they spoke excitedly.
“He is risen! He is risen!” said the first man, excitedly.
“We know it is Him,” said the other. “He spoke with us on the way to Emmaus, and our hearts burned within us as he revealed how the scriptures pointed to Him and His death.”
“But we weren’t really sure,” asserted the first man, “until we invited him to dine with us, and he broke the bread. Then our eyes were opened and we know it was He.”
But just then there was a flash and rumbling sound and suddenly another being was standing there before them. It was Him. Barabbas was sure it was the same man he had seen crucified. He had not knocked or opened the door. It was as if he just went right through it. He stood with open arms and said “Peace, my friends. Peace be with you.” The room suddenly became quiet as everyone stared in wonder at the figure before them. Then some of the disciples began to whisper.
“What is it?”
“Is it really him?”
“It must be a spirit.”
Barabbas found himself beginning to wonder. Could this really be Him? Perhaps it was an illusion. But then, the figure before them held out his hands and spoke. “Why are you troubled? Why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I, myself: Handle me and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see me have.” His whole visage seemed to be aglow. Barabbas did recognize him. The wounds on his face from the thorns were there though healed, and his features were just as he remembered. It was the same man who he had seen dying on the cross that day. Barabbas stayed in the background, not wanting to call attention to himself. His heart was filled with awe, as Jesus showed his hands and feet to the still doubtful disciples. Then, the master asked: “Do you have any meat?” Someone brought some fish and a honeycomb and he took it and ate before them. Barabbas was overjoyed. Now he knew his faith had not been in vain. This man had risen from the dead, meaning that He must be the promised Messiah. Barabbas wanted to tell Him of the promise he had made to serve him, but instead, he simply sat spellbound watching the master eat.
When he had finished eating, the master said: “This is what I spoke to you while I was still with you that all must be fulfilled which is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me.” He then proceeded to give an amazing scripture lesson, showing how everything in scriptures pointed to Him. They all, including Barabbas, sat spellbound, taking in his wonderful teaching. Then he told them to wait in Jerusalem until they would be endowed with power from on high.
Deborah was still up when he arrived back home.
“Well, how was it?”
“O’ it was wonderful, Deborah, dear. First, some disciples came and told that they had met Him on the road, and then He actually came and appeared and ate and taught us and everything.”
“You mean He actually appeared there in the house?”
“Yes, and he didn’t open the door or knock or anything. I don’t know how he did it, but He just went through the door without opening it.”
“Maybe it was a spirit.”
“Funny, that’s what some of His disciples thought. But he soon allayed that fear. He asked them why they were thinking it, and then he showed us his hands and feet and actually ate before us.”
“So, then, it is true. He is alive. And that must mean that He is the promised Messiah.”
“Yes, Deborah. He explained to us how that everything in the scriptures points to Him."
“That’s wonderful, Barabbas. Did you tell Him that you promised to serve Him?”
“No, Deborah, somehow I didn’t get a chance.”
“What about the other disciples? Did you tell any of them?”
“I mentioned it when I was first introduced. But they were all as caught up with His presence as I was and no-one mentioned it again. But there will be other meetings. I’m sure he will appear again."
Thus it was that Barabbas told Manaheem and Claressa the good news at the market that day, five days after the crucifixion, and invited them to the meeting that night. And thus it was that Manaheem was at Claressa's house, waiting for her as she got ready for the meeting. Manaheem had taken up temporary residence at one of the inns in Jerusalem while hoping to re-marry Claressa and move in with her.
As she was finishing to get ready, she spoke to him in a raised voice from the other room. “Oh, Manaheem, I’m so glad you changed. I was afraid I had lost you forever.”
“Perhaps you would have if it hadn’t been for Him.”
“I’m glad you changed, Manaheem, but I just don’t know what to think about this new cause of yours—I mean, a Jew who was crucified and supposedly rose from the dead-?”
“I know it’s a bit much to swallow all at once. But, hurry and get ready. We won’t want to be late for the meeting.”
“Do you really think he will appear there tonight?”
“We’ll just have to wait and find out, won’t we?
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