30 Minutes in the Life of Barabbas

Once inside, Barabbas breathed a great sigh of relief and thankfulness to be free of the mob of people who had descended on Jerusalem for the Passover festival. It was now almost past midday, so he hurried through the opulent interior of the temple – everything was polished to perfection, gold overlay and filigree seemed to be in every place at once, rich carpets and curtains adorned the walls, and great tables and chairs of Acacia wood filled enormous meeting rooms.

On his way, Barabbas passed dozens of priests and scribes. Many knew him to be the son of a chief priest and delayed him with greetings and hellos. Frustrated with his slow progress, Barabbas came to a broad wooden door, which he barely managed to push open. Inside he found his father at last. “Awe, Barabbas, you have finally come!” his father exclaimed. “I am famished! Where have you been?” Barabbas stepped into the chamber. It was a stone room filled with shelves containing hundreds of scrolls and a desk at one end. Colorful carpets covered the smooth marble of the floor and a small window opened out into the court. Barabbas loved the heady smell of the ancient articles and the way the golden light illuminated the dank room.

“I could hardly get through the streets!” he gasped as he struggled to shut the door and went to his father. He handed his father the basket before sitting tiredly on the floor at his feet.

Barabbas declared in wonder, “Father, I can never remember seeing this many people in Jerusalem at once. I fear the city might burst and fall apart like an old wine skin it is so full!” His father laughed heartily and nodded in agreement with his son.

“Yes, well, Passover is a unique time. Jerusalem opens her arms in peace to people from all over the known world, so they can come and celebrate the work of God.” His father opened the basket and took out a loaf of challah bread, a pile of dates, a handful of nuts, and a chunk of cheese. Barabbas looked on hungrily. “Come, Barabbas, share this meal with me,” his father encouraged. In the midst of eating, Barabbas looked up at his father’s desk and noticed the intriguing ancient parchments alongside his notes.

“What are you working on, father?” Barabbas queried.

“I am studying the manuscripts of Genesis,” he replied. Barabbas nodded, he had heard of Genesis long before this, but he was still puzzled.

“But why are you studying Genesis right now, father?” Barabbas continued. His father sighed and then answered tonelessly,

“I’m studying the stories about the beginning of Israel, so tomorrow during the Passover I can recount them. I’m going to tell about Moses and how God used him to rescue all of Israel from the Egyptians. I will tell the stories of our history and who we are. Passover is a time to remember them and praise God.” Barabbas was silent for a long moment. Then, he nodded his head and smiled.

“I’m glad God helps us,” he declared. At this, his father’s eyes brightened for a moment and he patted his son on the back. It was not long before they finished the small luncheon. Then, his father directed Barabbas,

“Go home and help your mother prepare for tomorrow.” Barabbas rose up obediently and gathered the basket from the desk. He headed toward the door of the workroom and then looked back at his father saying,

“Goodbye, Father! I wish I could study Genesis with you.”

“Goodbye, son.” Barabbas strode hesitantly back into the outer passage of the temple, and pushed the heavy door shut behind him.


Things had not stilled at all when he exited the temple building. In fact, even more people than before seemed to crowd around him. Just beyond the pillars, a young man bargained with a temple merchant, trying to purchase a lamb for the Passover meal. The merchant was charging an outrageous price because it was the last day lambs would be available to buy for the feast.

Nearby, a woman assisted an elderly couple trying to walk into the temple. Her child ran around the trio wanting to see everything at once. Next to them, a young boy sold grain for Thanksgiving Offerings. Barabbas weaved through these people and thousands more as he retraced his steps out of the temple complex. As he descended the steps of the temple and traipsed into the city, Barabbas glanced back, wishing he could stay in the temple to watch all the happenings of the next few days. He loved the excitement, which seemed to fill the place. He decided right there, as he glanced back at the glorious temple behind him, one day he would have a place there serving God like his father.