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Dear Master of Freedom

Dear Master of Freedom,
I awaited the decision.
I knew
  It was just a matter
      Of time
   Before my punishment came.
I was guilty.
I deserved to die.
I laughed
   At the memory.
I killed a man
   In cold blood,
   In a predetermined act.
I hated the man.
   He deserved to die.

I rested my head
   Against the stone wall.
Now, it was just a matter of time.
To society,
   I was a murderer,
      A misfit,
      A thing to be hanged.
No one wanted mercy.
All wanted death.
Even my wife
   Didn’t want to see me.
My cell door was opening.
Two guards bound my hands.
   And led me out of the prison.
I looked back
   For one last look.
I guess this was it.
What cruel death
   Would they give me?
My thoughts were brought back
   When I heard the guards talking.
“What do you think
   Of this Jesus?”
“Some say
   He’s the Jews’ Messiah.
Some say
   He’s a maniac.
I don’t know
   Who He really is.
But I was there
   When the Jews brought Him
      Before Pilate.
They accused Him
   Of all manner
      Of wrong.
I could tell
   They were lying.
It was a pay-off.
I watched
   Jesus’s face.
This Man took it,
   Almost as if He expected it.
But He didn’t say a word.
He wasn’t afraid
   Nor weak.
It was strange.
   I could read hurt
      In His eyes.
Not for Himself,
   But for His accusers.
I can’t figure Him out.”
The other guard responded,
“They say
   Pilate’s going to offer
      A trade,
   Barabbas or Jesus
For the releasing
   Of the prisoner
      For the feast.”
He laughed.
“Course,
   Jesus will be freed,
He hasn’t done anything.”
   They continued
   In silence.

The prisoner knew
  His fate.
The Roman’s worst means
   Of death,
      Crucifixion.

The prisoner was led
   Before Pilate
      In front of the townsmen.
Another Man stood
   On the other side of Pilate.
He was a strong man,
   But His face spoke of pain,
      Exhaustion,
   Yet gentleness.
Pilate spoke to the mob
   With a loud voice.
“This man,”
   As he pointed to me,
“Committed murder.”
He described my crime.
I tried to appear tough,
   To give that sense
      Of calmness
   That the other Man displayed.
Maybe He could
   Because He knew
      He’d be set free.
Maybe that’s why
   He had such tranquility about Him.
My mind was brought back
   As Pilate turned
      To the other Man.
“This Man, is Your King,
   I find no wrong.”
Pilate asked,
“Will you
   That I release unto you
      The King of the Jews?”
I closed my eyes.
I caught sight
   Of my wife in the crowd.
I didn’t want to see
   Her response
      At my death sentence.
The mob began to chant,
“Release Barabbas!
Release Barabbas!”
I was free!
I could have shouted.
I was led
   Back through the maze
      By the same two guards.
When we approached the street,
One untied my hands.
The other gave me a push
   And said,
“Remember,
   That Man is dying for you.
You did the wrong.
He didn’t.”
I landed on the ground.
 I brushed myself off
   and went

     To where the mob gathered.
They were dispersing.
“Wait a minute,
   What was the verdict?”
“What are you worried about?
You’re a free man,
   Barabbas.”

I approached
   A group of men leaving the scene.
“What’s to be done
      “With this Jesus?”
I demanded.

“Barabbas,
   You’re a free man
But Jesus,
   He’s to be crucified.”

I gasped.
They’re going
   To crucify
      An innocent Man
And let me go free?
The guard’s words kept
   Coming back,
“You did the wrong,
   He didn’t."
He was dying
   For me.
Today, I should be happy,
   I’m free!
Instead,
   I hate myself.
   I hate life.
I followed the crowd
   To the road
      Jesus would travel
   From the palace
   To the hill.
I pushed my way to a place
   Near the front.
I needed
   To see Him
      One more time.
I waited
   What seemed to be hours.
Finally,
   I saw a figure
      In the distance,
Struggling
   to carry the cross.
As the figure drew closer,
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Was it the same Man
   that stood beside Pilate?
His beard was ripped
   From His Face,
A crown of spikes
   Caused blood
      To flow in His eyes.
His Face was swollen
   Beyond recognition.
His arms,
   Though strong,
      Struggled
To readjust the cross
   On His Back.
As He did so,
   He glanced up.
His eyes caught mine.
I feared to let my eyes linger,
Yet His compelled me.
In them,
   I read the look of love,
      Of forgiveness,
      Of hope.
He didn’t hold bitterness.
As I had done
   To the other man
      I had murdered.
He didn’t offer hate,
   As I had done.
Nor did He display fear,
   As I had.
This Man,
   This Jesus, 
Gave me forgiveness.
Not spoken,
But through His Eyes.
Those eyes
   Which spoke of love.
I was free!
I was free
   From my sin,
      My guilt,
      My blame.
I was never
   To be condemned
      Of its wrong.

I watched
   As He passed me.
I saw His Back.
I knew now
   Why He struggled
      With each move,
      With each step.
The blistered poles
   Of that cross dug
      Into raw meat
      And blood
   Of that Man’s back.

He’s a stronger Man
   Than I’ve ever seen.
      Strong outside, yes,
   But stronger inside.
I searched
   For Jesus’s disciples.
I needed
   To know more
      About this Man.
I found.
I learned
   Bits and pieces.
Of how He touched
   This woman
   And she was made whole.
Of how He spoke
   And demons fled.
Of how He taught
   How to live.
In my searching
   I caught sight
      Of a crowd.
I approached
   With curiosity.
A man was teaching,
   Not about the Law,
   But of Jesus.
He had risen from the dead.
It seemed far fetched,
   But possible,
      This Man was Someone special.
I would search the world
   To know more of this Man
      Who paid the cost
 To set me free.
Written March 31, 1986



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Dear Master of Freedom

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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