For the world’s 2 billion Christians, this, more than any other week, illustrates the full gamut of why Easter was a necessity.

In a story that never gets old, Holy Week details the last week in the life of Jesus, who went from being lauded as a king on Sunday to arrested on Thursday to dead by Friday.

A pivotal moment is his kangaroo trial before Pontius Pilate, a Roman bureaucrat who found himself stuck in the middle of what he considered to be a religious dispute. It was exhausting, trying to maintain peace in a land that had never known any, with people motivated by a religion he neither cared about nor understood.

It didn’t help that Jesus refused to plead his own case, not even explaining the meaning of truth when asked.

Ignoring his wife’s warnings to let him go, Pilate tried to take a politician’s way out, because the last thing he needed was for Rome to get wind of yet another problem with these people.

He offered the crowd a choice: Jesus or Barabbas, an unrepentant killer.

You know the rest of the story.

We tsk-tsk at the fickleness of those who hailed Jesus on Palm Sunday, but we can’t finger-wag.

They chose Barabbas because he demanded nothing from them; no self-examination, no repentance, no acts of mercy or forgiveness.

Jesus, on the other hand, made folks uncomfortable. He was a radical who stood religion on its head by publicly exposing the religious hypocrisy while treating women, the poor and the powerless as people worth loving.

He ate with crooks, talked to Samaritans and had the effrontery to heal on the Sabbath and forgive people of their sins.

We choose Barabbas every time we refuse to accept something as fundamentally factual as human equality.

The crowd shouted for Barabbas that day because truth demands certain things from us. It calls us to grow up, to stretch and reexamine our innermost motives and to make sacrifices when we’d rather not.

Truth invites us to break free of our self-imposed bubble-wrap, but we’d rather hold fast because there’s comfort in conformity. We might be required to change some things, and well, who needs that?

Everyone always says they want the truth, but we don’t, not really, because the truth contains the same qualities as light: It exposes every dark place, every crevice, every selfish and mean-girl moment.

We want a truth that doesn’t require anything of us. We prefer Barabbas because he doesn’t call us out. He lets us do what we want.

Truth points out things that we’d rather not hear. It makes us defensive, angry and irrational until the next thing we know, we’re rooting for Barabbas with no idea how we lost our way.

We consider ourselves good and decent people, then here comes a splash of truth, and it shocks us out of our self-satisfaction. It can trigger such discomfort that we reach for affirmation any place we can find it, no matter how loopy, how nonsensical the source.

It drives us to recrafting truth in our own image so that we never have to wrestle with the possibility that we might be wrong.

Nothing more is known about Barabbas. Perhaps he went on with his life of crime, oblivious to what was about to happen to Jesus.

But perhaps the moment left him a changed man.

Coming face-to-face with truth can do that.

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Charita M. Goshay is a nationally syndicated columnist for Gatehouse News Service. She is a native of Canton, Ohio, and a graduate of Kent State University where she majored in communications. Goshay has been employed at the Canton Repository since 1990. She can be reached at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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