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March 28, 2013

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

John 19:1-18 (NIV)

Dear Jesus, there you hang flattened out against the timbers – son of Mary, Son of God – bleeding profusely, crying out in agony, suffering excruciating pain  (ex crux – from the cross). Christ, you are innocent, the one person without sin dying as a common criminal between two thieves. Why has this happened to you? Who has required this death? Pilate?  Shall we blame the Jews as Hitler did? The high priest was corrupt and incited the demand for your death, but the great majority of Jews were innocent of your death. Shall we blame the Romans? They would not tolerate civil disturbance, but Pilate tried to free you. He washed his hands of the entire matter.

Is this death a ransom, a bargain struck between the devil and God? Did they, like kids trading baseball cards make a deal, one Jesus for the rest of the world? Or did God in His justice require your death? Is that what God is like, demanding His pound of flesh?

Jesus, I know that we who follow you required this. We are there with the mob shouting “Crucify!”  We required your death because we would never believe how much you love us if you had not loved us to death.

In my mind’s eye, I come again to the place called the skull. Please forgive me, Jesus, Lord and Savior.


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