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Barabbas reborn in downtown Sandy

'Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus, who is called King of the Jews?' said Roman Gov. Pontius Pilate, speaking to the crowd.

'Barabbas,' they answered.

'What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?'

'Crucify him,' they shouted.

More than 100 generations of people have come and gone since that scene in early Jerusalem.

And probably no one appreciates what happened more than Barabbas.

Jamie Snodgrass of Boring would agree he's trying to recreate history, but in that process the pastor's 'life' is at the whim of the masses.

Beginning this Monday and continuing the following four weeks, Snodgrass, pastor of the Sandy Church of the Nazarene, is being seen daily around Sandy dressed as and acting the role of Barabbas, a murderer and insurrectionist of the first century - spoken about briefly in each of the four gospels in the Christian Bible.

'I'm going to be all over town,' the pastor said. 'This is the way I get to live for a month.'

He'll be seen on the sidewalks and in businesses, with cards and fliers and water bottles supposedly containing water from the Dead Sea.

He'll be recruiting for Team Barabbas.

By 10 a.m. Easter Sunday, April 8, Snodgrass is expecting hundreds to gather outside the Sandy Church of the Nazarene to become part of history and recreate the trial before Pilate that ends with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This scene will take place in and around a huge tent on the five acres behind the church on Jarl Road. He's creating a scene that could pass for what he calls a Jerusalem Passover Festival.

And everyone present has a part in the historical drama.

The festivities will include arena games featuring competition with Team Jesus against Team Barabbas - games such as Gladiator Joust and Medieval Joust as well as Hippity-Hop (bouncy) horse racing, face painting, a bounce house and food booths.

Snodgrass has challenged his congregation to be on Team Jesus and get as many people as possible to cheer for Jesus' release. Meanwhile, he is spending a month recruiting Team Barabbas to cheer for his release.

'The whole area will be set up like (the early) Passovers,' Snodgrass said. 'At Passover, the whole town (Jerusalem) was bulging with people. All kinds of things were going on.'

Formal voting will take place in the tent, with the crowd acting as the jury, to decide whether Jesus or Barabbas will be released.

'This is a recreation of what Jerusalem might have been like,' he said. 'Nothing is exact. It's more like a movie script. The idea is there's a festival, with people milling around.

'When Jesus went through these trials, and when Pilate was talking, it wasn't something that happened in a vacuum inside a church. It happened in the community with people running around and all these festivities and vendors. This was a big time of the year for these people to come to Jerusalem.'

Snodgrass' Bible study reveals one of the reasons people wanted the hated-by-everyone Barabbas released and Jesus crucified was because the Jewish priests sent their servants out with lots of wine for the crowd, and many became intoxicated.

The Sandy pastor will campaign for a month before the trial to gain enough votes to save his life.

But he'll do it without wine.

He'll recruit anyone he sees on the street, but especially from his leather-clad biker friends.

After Barabbas' cross is made available for Jesus, the large tent becomes the tomb and the church service begins, with Barabbas (Snodgrass) asking the question, 'Is this (dead man) really the Son of God?'

Taking the side of a skeptic, Barabbas will interview some townsfolk who believe Jesus is the Son of God. Among those he plans to talk with are the beggar Bartimaeus, who was blind and was healed in Jerico, and Lazarus from Bethany, whom Jesus raised from the dead after four days.

Then a high-tech 21st-century resurrection will take place, and after the smoke clears, the body of Jesus will be missing from the tomb.

Barabbas will then reveal a commoner's response to a risen Lord.

Needless to say, Easter at the Sandy Nazarene church will be a bit different than might be expected. Snodgrass says he doesn't want to preach to people; instead, he wants people to participate in an Easter Resurrection message.

The resurrection is hailed by millions around the globe, and Sandy Church of the Nazarene will join the masses by celebrating with an upbeat Christian band and special music that will continue until 1 p.m.

With this participatory service, Snodgrass expects up to 400 to attend. He had 215 at Christmas.

For more information, call 971-222-6577.