My name is Jesus. The story I am about to tell you is true. It happened to me one sunny day in June.
I had risen early that morning and my apostles were either out with their fishing or others were still in their beds. I had been notified the day before that a friend of my grandmother was ill and most likely dying. I decided to visit her and see if there was anything that I could do to ease her suffering. She was an elderly woman and I doubted whether I could help her very much, but I thought I would at least try. Her name was Keziah. She was named after one of Job’s daughters who was a distant relative. I had not seen her since I was a little boy. I remember her as a fun-loving and very happy woman.
My journey started out in Nazareth. Keziah lived in Cana, a journey of about 10 km. Walking, slowly, I thought it would take me about 2 hours to arrive there. I left early to avoid the daytime heat which in June can reach 95 degrees or more. The road to Cana passes through flat agricultural land and pasture lands. Dotted with a few olive groves and many flocks of sheep, I was enjoying a quiet reprieve from the usual chatter with my apostles and particularly the throngs that often gathered around me when I preached.
I started to pass through a small rocky outcrop when suddenly a rough bearded man jumped out from behind a large boulder. “Stop” he yelled. I greeted him with the traditional greeting of “Shalom.” I asked him what he wanted and how I could be of any help to him. He replied, “Your money or your life.” I answered, “I am very sorry stranger, but I have very little money to give you. I have less than a quarter shekel and I need that to buy lotion for a dying woman.”
“I don’t care about the dead, only the living. And since I am living, I want whatever money you have, or you will surely forfeit your life today. If you die, it will be senseless, since I will get your money anyway.”
I stared at the stranger and suddenly I could see the future. Our lives were intertwined in ways that I would never have imagined. I spoke “Stranger, I have the gift of seeing the future. Some people say that I am a prophet and that when I call upon my Father, he can make things happen.” I see that you and I will have business together in the future.”
“I do not care about the future or the past, I only care about today. And today, you are here with some money and I am here with some hunger for food. I am beginning to tire of this conversation. You had best decide shortly which is more valuable to you, your money or your life.”
“Stranger, my life is forfeit anyway, for so it has been prophesized. But your life is hanging in the balance. If you kill me today. You will surely lead a short life. If you let me pass, you will live to an old age, albeit your life will never be a happy one.”
“Friend, you make me laugh. Are you saying that if I kill you, you will somehow find a way to kill me?”
“No, I am saying that our fortunes are intertwined and that I will someday give up my life for yours. If you kill me today, it will never happen, and you will die sooner than you would like. Your death will be very unpleasant.”
The bandit thought about this situation for several minutes. What had at first appeared to be a rather risk-less endeavor had now turned into a situation with conceivably frightful consequences. If this man could really see the future, his own death might depend on what he did at this present moment. Were the few coins this goy had really worth the chance that killing him might bring his own death?
“I have thought about your words friend and I have decided it is too nice a day to kill you. I will let you be on your way. Just remember to be grateful to me for my kindness and offer whatever prayers you can for my long and healthy life.”
“Stranger, I assure you that today, you have saved your own life as well as mine. We part now but we will meet again. Please tell me your name before we go our own ways.”
Friend, everyone knows my name. I am famous far and wide. I am the spawn of the devil and the bane of rich people throughout the land. I have taken more shekels from taxpayers and Pharisees and hypocrites than I can count.”
“I am the son of the father. My name is Barabbas.”
Previously Published on Aging Capriciously