The grassy knoll where JFK was shot, Graceland, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, celebrity homes in Hollywood, and the World Trade Center memorial. We have a need to connect with people and events that are significant in our lives and our history. We walk the path of civil rights marches, visit the room where Abraham Lincoln died, and have museums to hold the ruby slippers of the Wizard of Oz and other movie memorabilia.
If we value all of these things, how could we not have something similar for the life of Jesus? The Stations of the Cross has its roots very early in Christianity. People would come to Jerusalem to visit the homes and buildings associated with the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, and retrace Jesus’ steps to the cross. Today, we have 14 traditional stations that help us enter into these last moments and remember them in a special way. For the rest of Lent, we will go through them one by one and prepare for Easter by diving into the sacrifice that made it all possible. Come on in.
In the First Station, Jesus is condemned to death.
Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.
Just before this passage, Pilate tells Jesus that he has the power to free or condemn Him. In reality, Pilate saw that Jesus was innocent and should be freed, and he tried to convince the crowds several times. Finally, he is compelled to release another prisoner altogether and send Jesus to His death. This power that Pilate thought he had is clearly an illusion.
Today, look at your life: the places where you think you have control and where God is showing you that He is in control. This station reminds us that even when God’s plan doesn’t look like ours, if we participate in it, the result can be much more than we had planned in the first place.