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This is the sequel to the previous edition and to "Parts I & II, A Novel of the Christ and the Roman Empire." It employs those characters who were still alive at the end of Part II and adds some new ones. Did Claressa embrace Manaheem's new-found faith? What happened to the bereaved family of Benjamin? Did Joseph, the oldest son get to go to Rabbi school? Did Barabbas continue to follow the master and did his wife and children join him? And was Pontius Pilate able to forget about his decision to crucify Jesus and did he become the strong ruler his wife wanted him to be? These and other questions are answered in this volume.
This novel is the sequel to "Of Such Is The Kingdom Parts I & II A Novel of the Christ and the Roman Empire." It employs those characters who were still alive at the end of Part II and adds some new ones. Did Claressa embrace Manaheem's new-found faith? What happened to the bereaved family of Benjamin? Did Joseph, the oldest son get to go to Rabbi school? Did Barabbas continue to follow the master and did his wife and children join him? And was Pontius Pilate able to forget about his decision to crucify Jesus and did he become the strong ruler his wife wanted him to be? These and other questions are answered in this volume.
The new characters added include Saul, who becomes Paul, Herod Agrippa, the nephew of Herod Antipas, who wants to take over the latter's territory, and Caligula, the crazy son of Emperor Tiberius and friend of Agrippa. Against the background of suspicion and treachery within the empire and disdain for and persecution of the new faith, the Church continues to grow and flourish.
Follow the travels of Manaheem as he tries in vain to convert the two Herods. Follow the machinations of Herod Agrippa in his aim to take over his uncle's territory. Follow the foibles of Pilate as he seeks to become a stronger ruler, while still regretting his decision to crucify Jesus.
Follow the new life of Barabbas and his family. Follow the lives of Benjamen's family as they cope and deal with their loss and the now seeming impossibility of Joseph's schooling. Will he get to go to Rabbi school and what will it mean for their future? But mainly follow the early church as it grows in spite of persecution.
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 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 him 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 women.
“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 about 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 just like that 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?
Barabbas and Deborah were also getting ready for the meeting. While getting dressed, they discussed whether or not to take the children.
“We could leave them with their tutor from the synagogue. She would take good care of them.”
“Yes, Deborah, but I tell you, I saw other children there. I’m sure no-one would mind as long as they behave.”
“But can we be sure they will?”
At this, Justin spoke up. “Oh, we will, Mommy, we will.”
Then Ruth chimed in: “We will be good and quiet. We just wana see Jesus again. He was so nice when we went to see him that day when we were looking for Daddy.”
“All-right, then, “answered Barabbas, “We’re all going to the meeting.”
“We’re all going to see Jesus” offered Ruth.
“But, Honey, there’s a chance he might not appear.”
“Oh, he must, he must!”
“But, just in case, promise me you’ll be good and quiet no matter what happens.”
“We promise, Daddy.”
“All-right, then, we’re off.”
CHAPTER 2: THE BEREAVED
When you can't see His plan, trust His hand.
Meanwhile at the house where Benjamin, the shopkeeper, used to reside, Sarah, his wife was preparing the evening meal, as the children played outside. As before, the neighborhood children stopped and asked to join them and they agreed. They had played together with these children twice before. The first time was just after their father was killed and these children had suggested they go to Jesus to see if he could revive their father, but their mother, in unbelief, refused to let them go. The second time was after Barabbas had been tried and sentenced and one of the children, having heard about it, brought the news of pending fate of their father's killer, which made them a little happy again, and their mother too when they told her. Now they were playing together again, and, as before, as they played, they talked. This time the other children again brought news—this time disturbing news.
“Oh, by the way, we heard that the man who killed your father was released on Passover.”
“what? Are you serious?”
“Yes. Remember the rabbi, Jesus, we told you about?”
“The one you thought might have been able to raise up daddy, but mommy wouldn’t let us go?”
“What’s he got to do with this?”
“Well, he was also on trial—I’m not sure what for, but anyway, Pilate asked the people if they wanted him to release him, and they said no, release Barabbas—the man who killed your father.”
“So what happened to Jesus?”
“They crucified him.”
“I can’t believe it. That’s so unfair!”
Supper was almost ready, so she decided to call the children. "Supper's almost ready. You children come on in and wash up."
Reluctantly they came in. "I'm not hungry, Momma, " protested Joseph.
"Me neither" added Jake.
"Now children," she scolded, "I know you miss your father. I do too. But we must go on with our lives. would have wanted it that way " set the dinner on the table, talking as she did so. "We simply can't starve ourselves to death because your father was killed--especially you children--’re still growing."
"I suppose not" ventured Jake. "But, we heard something else today that makes us a bit upset."
"What did you hear, children?" she asked.
"Maybe we better wait till after you eat your supper to tell you."
"No, you mentioned it, so go ahead and tell me now. Whatever it is it can't be as bad as the news of your father's death."
"You tell her, Jake"
"No, you tell here, Joseph."
"Will one of you tell me!"
"When we were outside playing, some other children came by and they told us that the man who killed Daddy was released.”
“What did you say?”
“Daddy’s killer was released from prison.”
She gasped. “what? Are you serious?”
“Yes." answered Joseph. "Remember the rabbi, Jesus, we told you about?”
“--The one," added Jake, "that we hoped might have been able to raise up daddy, but you wouldn’t let us go?”
“What’s he got to do with this?”
“Well, he was also on trial—I’m not sure what for—but anyway, Pilate asked the people if they wanted him to release him, and they said no, release Barabbas—the man who killed our father.”
"What?!" Her face was flushed “What's wrong with this world? Is there no justice? I take back what I said about there being a reason for it. There is no reason—No reason at all.”
The older son, Joseph, put his arm around her to comfort her. “There, there, mother. You mustn’t take on so. There still must be a reason. We just haven’t seen it yet. Didn't you tell us that everything happens for a reason?"
"I suppose I did." she sobbed. But by now the other children were crying too. Sarah let out a big sigh and reached to put her arms around all of them. “Thank the good Lord we still have each other,” she managed. “I don’t know what I would have done without you children.”
“And we surely don’t know what we’d have done with you.”
Now Joseph put one hand on his hip and asked “But, momma, what are we gonna do now?”
“What do you mean, Joseph?”
“I mean to live. Are we gonna open th’ shop again?”
“Joseph, I don’t want to think about that now. Your father left us a goodly sum of money, so we can get by for a while. We’ll talk about that when th’ time comes.” She sighed again and said: "Now I'm not hungry either."
Joseph sighed a big sigh and said "Come on, Mamma, you told us we need to eat--well, so do you." He looked at the others So come on, let's all eat. ”
They did their best to force the food down. As they ate Leah, the youngest, said "I sure miss Daddy."
Sarah sighed a big sigh and said "I guess I miss him more than any of you. But, we just have to get used to his not being here and go on with our lives.”
“I guess you’re right, momma, but why did he have to die?”
“I’ve been askin’ th’ good Lord that a million times myself. But, as your brother has just reminded me, there must be a reason. Some things we’re probably never meant to understand on this side of th’ grave.”
They ate in silence. When the meal was over, Joseph, the older son raised his eyebrows and asked again “But, momma, what ARE we gonna do? I think we need to talk about it now.”
“What do you mean, Joseph?”
“I mean how are we going to live? Are we gonna open th’ shop again, or what?”
“Now, Joseph, I told you I don’t want to talk about that now. Your father left us a goodly sum of money, so we can get by for a while. We’ll talk about that when th’ time comes.”
“But, he didn’t leave enough for me to go to college, right?”
“No, son, I’m afraid, he didn’t. He was trying to save up enough for you to go to Rabbi school. --working such long hours at the shop. And now, he’s gone, before he could—killed by a no- good robber, and th’ man let go free. It’s just not right, Joseph.” She broke down crying again. “It’s just not right, Joseph, It's just not right. What IS the world coming to? No Joseph, there IS no reason for it. I take back what I taught you. In this case, there is NO reason at all.”
“O’ momma, there has to be a reason. I don’t know if I'd really want to be a Rabbi anyway."
"But Rabbis make good money," she insisted.
"I know, momma, but, If we open th’ shop, I could run it. Daddy taught me a few things about th’ business and the rest I could pick up from some of th’ other merchants.”
She let out a big sigh and put her arms around him. “Now Joseph, I said, we’d talk about this later. Anyway, I couldn’t bear to think that what happened to your father, might happen to you. If you run th’ shop, who’s t’ say there might not be another robbery, and you’d get killed. No, I just couldn’t bear that.” She started sobbing uncontrollably again.
Now all the children tried to put their arms around her.
“O.K., momma,” Joseph said, “We won’t talk about it now.”
“Or maybe never?” she ventured, still sobbing.
“Or maybe never.”
CHAPTER 4: PILATE
The truth will set your free unless you're guilty.
Meanwhile at the Jerusalem Praetorium, Pilate had just come home from another hard day of ruling. He opened the big door that led to the living room and flopped down on the couch and sighed. “Ah, home at last!”
His wife came from the bedroom to meet him. "Well, it's about time."
“Ah, you look lovelier than ever, Portia dear.”
“Thank you my dear husband. You look tired. Another hard day of ruling?”
“You can say that again, Portia. I told you Jerusalem would be worse than Caesarea. I can’t wait for this week to get over so we can go back.”
“Well, why can’t we leave now? Passover’s over.”
“The feast of Passover itself is over, yes, but you know we’re supposed to stay the whole week. I think they call it the feast of unleavened bread. No, it wouldn’t do to leave before the week is up.”
“Yeah, I had forgotten about that. The feast of unleavened bread? I wonder what the point of that is.”
“Who knows? These crazy Jews and their customs. ”He sighed. “By the time we get back, I may never catch up on the backlog of cases there.”
“Oh sure you will Pilate. Just take one at a time and don’t worry about the rest.”
“Well, I hope I do a better job with those than I have done.”
“And just what do you mean by that, Pilate dear?”
“I mean, I’m still not ruling very well.”
“Why do you say that, my dear?”
“I’m giving in too much to the people.”
“So you finally realized I was right—that you should be more though? What happened to your idea of a democracy.”
“That was a foolish notion. I don’t know why I ever thought of it. Of course the people don’t know what’s good for them. How can they?”
She smiled broadly. “There! That’s my Pilate talking.”
“Yes, but I don’t always follow my own thinking. I give in to the people too much.”
“Well, you’ll learn. Give it time.”
“But in the meantime, I could keep making mistakes that can hurt people.”
“Like allowing them to crucify that Jesus fellow. I knew he was innocent. I should have stood up to them.”
“I know. I warned you that I dreamt about him. I thought you were going to release him.”
“I was going to. I fully intended to release him. But they were so insistent. I even offered them a choice between him and Barabbas, the murderer who led the insurrection. I was sure they would pick him. ” His voice cracked and a tear streamed down his cheek. “But they didn’t. They chose Barabbas as the one to go free and demanded that I crucify the innocent one. And I was too weak not to give in to their demand to crucify him, especially when they said that if I let him go, I was no friend of Caesar. I’m sure Caesar wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. But they insisted and I listened to them. Oh, I washed my hands of it. Ha! What good did that do?” He looked at his hands. “A hundred washings cannot take his blood from my hands. I allowed him to be crucified—an innocent man.”
“Oh, don’t be too hard on yourself. You did what you thought you had to do.”
“No, Portia, I did what they wanted me to do. I should have listened to you. The gods gave a warning through your dream and I should have listened. Do you think he might actually be a god or messiah or something? They told me he said he would rise from the dead—had me to post guards at the tomb in case his disciple stole his body to claim he arose. But do you think it’s possible that he actually might?”
“Might what?—rise from the dead? You know better than that, Pilate. Dead men don’t rise.”
“Well whatever he was, there was just something different about him and I never should have given in to them. I should have insisted that I free him and crucify Barabbas.”
“Well, my dear Pilate, it does no good to beat yourself up over it now. It’s done, so forget about it.”
“That’s easy for you to say, Portia, dear. The fact is, I can’t forget about it. It’s on my mind constantly. I see his innocent face before me in my mind’s eye every day. Some nights I can’t sleep for thinking about him.”
“I know." She smiled. "You woke me the other night and we made love to take your mind off of it. Remember?”
“Of course I remember. But I wonder if that will always work.”
She smiled slyly with a glint in her eye. “We can certainly keep trying can’t we? Anyway, maybe once we get back in Caesarea, these thoughts of what happened here will go away.”
He sighed. “I certainly hope so.”
“So come on then, to bed, shall we, my love?”
But Pilate and Portia didn’t sleep very well that night either. Portia was sleeping soundly in the middle of the night, when all of a sudden she was awakened by her husband’s voice yelling: “Not this man! He’s innocent! Take Barabbas, not him!”
She shook him to awaken him from his nightmare. “O’ Pilate, my Pilate,” she sighed. “What am I going to do with you? This has simply got to stop. I’ll go to the apothecary tomorrow and see if there is anything you can take to calm you while you’re here. In the meantime, come here!”
He smiled slyly “Why are you complaining? You know you like making love to me.”
“I’m not complaining. But this might not always work. And anyway, It would just be better for you to take something.”
“Yes, I guess I could use a sedative. This work is getting on my nerves. But in the meantime---”
She reached for his arm. “In the meantime, come here!”
CHAPTER 5: CHILDREN
...and a little child shall lead them
It happened that John Mark’s home was on the way from the synagogue to the house where Benjamin had lived. Barabbas and Deborah brought the children early for the next meeting, so they could play with some of the other disciples’ children outside before the meeting. There were chairs outside so that the parents could sit and watch the children at play. This particular evening, as the children were playing, Benjamin’s children happened to be on their way home from their lessons at the synagogue with their child-leader, when they spotted the group of children playing. Recognizing some of the children, they asked if they could go and say hello.
“Just be careful,” the child-leader told them. “You have your good clothes on.”
The children whom they knew were busy playing ball with Caleb, Jason and Ruth and neither noticed the others approaching until they called out to them. “Hey! Lucas! Michael!”
“Oh, hello! Joseph and Jake, this is Caleb, Jason and Ruth”
“Hi! Good to meet you. But what are you all doing here? Why are there so many kids here? Is this a community park or something?”
“No, it’s a house, but it’s actually a church too—I mean we’re going to have a meeting in little while.”
“What kind of a meeting? What do you do?”
“We read th’ Scriptures---“
“But that’s what the synagogues are for.”
“I know. But we do more than that. We also talk about Jesus. And sometimes he even comes.”
“Jesus?” What do mean. Isn’t he the one they crucified instead of the bum who killed our dad?”
“Yes it is.”
“Well, how could he come to your meeting if he’s dead?”
Now Jason spoke up. “But, he isn’t dead. He’s as much alive as you are. He arose from the dead.”
Joseph scorned, “Aw, come on! Are you sure it was actually him you saw.”
“Oh, it was him alright. And he didn’t open th’ door to come in. He just appeared as if he’d gone right through th’ wall.”
“Must be some sort of trick er somethin’ Anyway how do you know it was really him?”
Now Jason spoke up again. He didn’t want to but felt he had to. “My Daddy recognized him and he should know—he watched him die.”
“Who is your Daddy?” asked Joseph, nonchalantly.
“He’s Barabbas the blacksmith.”
“Barabbas? He’s th’ one who killed our Daddy!”
"Liar!" exclaimed Caleb. "He did no such thing!”
“Did too!" insisted Jake "That’s why they caught him. But then they let him go.”
“You’re a liar!" exclaimed Ruth. "My Daddy would never kill anybody!”
Thus a fight broke out between the children of Benjamin and the children of Barabbas. Hearing the commotion, Barabbas and Deborah walked over to the children and asked what the trouble was. The child-leader, watching at a distance had started to come over but upon seeing other adults enter the situation, decided it would be better to stay where he was.
“They said you killed their father.” Shouted Jason to Barabbas.
“Who is your father, lad?” asked Barabbas to the other children.
“He was Benjamin, the cloth shop owner.”
Now Barabbas’ countenance was sorrowful as he turned to his own children and put his arms around them. “I’m afraid it’s true, Ruth, Caleb and Jason. I did kill their father when I attempted to rob his store. That’s what I kept from you the night I was released from prison. Maybe I should have told you but I was ashamed and didn’t want you to worry." He then turned to Benjamin’s children. “I’m really sorry about it all now. Now I’ve given my life to the one who took my place and I’m a changed man. If I could bring your father back I would. I repented of that and all my sins and am starting a new life of service to God.”
“Well our mother hates you. And so do we.”
“I can’t say as I blame her—or you.”
Just then the child-leader, who had been standing at a distance and not able to hear the conversation, called to Joseph, Jake and Josh. “Come on, Children, We really must go, now.”
“Aww, just when it was getting interesting.”
Barabbas looked at his children again. “I don’t know how it happened, it happened so fast—but that’s another part of my life—a part of which I’m ashamed and I don’t really want to talk about. You children don’t hate me, do you?”
They gathered around him and gave him a big group hug. “No,” they said in unison.
Then Jason said “Of course, not, Daddy, we could never hate you. Whatever you did, you musta had a reason. And anyway, as you said, it’s over now. We won’t talk about it any more.”
He smiled at Deborah, a big broad smile and said, “That’s my children!”
“Ah, yes dear!” she agreed.
But then a frown came over his face as he said “But, it seems my past mistakes are quite well known. I may have to change my name.”
“Are you serious Barabbas?”
“Well, it may help to avoid situations like this one in the future.”
“Perhaps. But, we’ll talk about that later. It’s almost sundown now and people are starting to go inside for the meeting.”
“Well, come on, then, let’s go, shall we?”