Scripture Passage: Luke 23: 20-25
20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
It has begun. Our recognition of Christ’s Passion is not just relegated to those few heartwrenching hours on Good Friday or even to the few fast-moving days leading up to it. Christ’s Passion actually began years ago in a small grotto or stable in Bethlehem. Now do not think that I am one of those that thinks that God sent Christ to our little earth for the sole purpose of dying. I just can’t see a God who is that cold and calculating. Christ was not sent here to die but to live and to, at the same time, show us how to do the same. That was the point.
And yet, even as early as the moment when Herod heard of the possibility of Jesus’ existence and ordered him (and all of the other male children of that age) killed, Jesus was condemned. Actually, I think you can go back farther than that. I mean, really, think about it–born in a barn or something to parents that really sort of appear to be illegal immigrants in sort of a no-name town just outside of the hustle and bustle of the holy city. Jesus came into this world alien, poor, and condemned. So this condemnation of Pilate’s, sparked on by those in majority rule, those who were trying desperately to maintain life as they knew it, is yet another step in this walk of a sadly condemned Christ.
This first Station of the Cross begins at the Praetorium, the court of law, located in the Fortress of Antonia, north of the Temple Mount. Pilate is depicted as the accuser and, yet, if it had really been left up to him, Jesus would have been flogged and sent home. But Pilate was swept into a whirlwind of political and personal agendas. Jesus was essentially a victim of the conflicts of a society in chaos as its members postured to place themselves higher and stay ahead of the game. After all, this man was expecting us to change! So as the crowd became louder and louder as they tried to get the last word, Pilate had no choice but to hand down the sentence that would change the world.
We stand in awe of Jesus. We are amazed at one who can hold so true to their convictions. And we blame Pilate and the crowd and the disciples. (I mean, really, where ARE they???) And yet, where would we be? Where would you be? Would you have put your financial security, your reputation, perhaps even your life on the line to stand up for the condemnation of the innocent, to speak out in the way God calls you to speak? DO you ever do that? I have to confess that I fall embarrassingly short of that calling. Jesus has been condemned to death and we stand not really knowing what to do next. And so we sit quietly in the warmth of our comfortable lives while the world goes on.
On this Lenten journey, let us truly walk this Way of the Cross by speaking out for the condemned, by standing up for what is right, by being Christ in the world. Let us finally kneel at the manger and worship Emmanuel, God With Us. Let us find room this time.
Grace and Peace,
Station I: Condemned
Scripture Passage: Luke 23: 20-25