November 26, 2020

Stations of the Cross: The First Station

A Series for Holy Week
Thanks to Jeff Dunn for leading us in these meditations

Jesus is condemned to die

The governor asked, “Which of these two do you want me to pardon?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
“Then what shall I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?”
They all shouted, “Nail him to a cross!”
He objected, “But for what crime?”
But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, “I’m washing my hands of responsibility for this man’s death. From now on, it’s in your hands. You’re judge and jury.”
The crowd answered, “We’ll take the blame, we and our children after us.”

Matthew 27:21-25, The Message

Just who are the children of those who cried allowed for Jesus to be nailed to a cross? Am I not an offspring of those who insisted that an innocent man pay for crimes he did not commit? And if I had been there in that pre-dawn crowd gathered outside of the governor’s court, would I not have cried with all the others, “Nail him to a cross!” Yes, I was among the judge and jury who condemned Jesus to die.

The amazing part of this horrific scene is that Jesus, the innocent man condemned by guilty men and women, chose this path to walk. He could have fought, he could have escaped those who came to capture him. Just a few hours before the scene we just watched, Jesus was with his closest friends in a garden. The temple police—led by a traitor to Jesus—arrived with swords and clubs as if to deal with an armed criminal. Jesus said that he could, if he so chose, call upon hundreds and thousands of soldiers of his own. “But if I did that,” he said, “how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?” (See Matthew 26:54)

Jesus willingly allowed himself to be falsely accused, falsely tried, falsely sentenced. And thus my false deed, my crying out for the blood of an innocent man to be spilled. Thus my words spoken in haste, but spoken with more truth then I could have possibly known: Let his blood be upon me and my children.

Close your eyes as you stand before this station. See yourself in a mob of men and women standing in a courtyard in the darkness that comes just before dawn. Hear Pilate offer to release the innocent Jesus. Then imagine yourself raising your fist and your voice, crying aloud for Jesus to be nailed to a cross. Let those words echo in your heart.

“Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!” It was you who shouted for his execution, and now it has been granted.  Jesus is condemned to die.

Oh my God, what have I done? I have called for the death of your only begotten Son, the only one truly innocent. I have called for the blood of Jesus to be on me and my children. I know not what I have done. How can forgiveness ever be mine—a guilty person, fully deserving of death myself, but casting that shame upon the pure and holy and truly innocent Son of God. I look at my hands—they are stained with the blood of Jesus. When you look at my hands, what do you see? How will you judge me for my crimes? I am the one responsible for what Jesus will now endure. How can I ever be clean from this crimson stain? Oh God, I am doomed.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


  1. I am delighted you’re doing this for Holy Week. May I just ask if it’s going to be following the traditional Stations, or the new more Biblically-based ones that the Vatican has been doing over the past couple of years?

    Because yes, I know, the Pope wants us to read the Scriptures, but I am reactionary enough to prefer the old Stations. However, holy obedience! 😉

    • Not sure, Martha. I’m partnering with Jeff in posting these, and I don’t have all of them in hand yet. Hope they encourage you.

      • I hope he is doing the newer, Biblically-based ones myself. But either way is fine. (I would think that with the many non-Catholics here, it would be best to do the newer ones.)

        • JoanieD, I’m so old-fashioned, I still say “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” when genuflecting before the Stations.

          I’m just about in the twentieth century, but still a bit suspicious of this twenty-first century modernity thing 😉

          • Martha, I haven’t “done” a Stations of the Cross since I was a kid and even then, I don’t know that we did it all “by the book” but maybe we did. I can’t really remember. I have gone online to read what it is that we are supposed to do, say, whatever at each station. They have been having the Stations of the Cross each Friday night during Lent at my local Catholic Church, but I have not made it to any. Tom is already nervous enough as it is by my reading so much “church stuff” as he calls it and spending time on this and a few other blogs and attending church when it doesn’t interrupt his plans (so usually I only get to a do a few morning masses before work).

            I came home from work one day to find that a Jehovah’s Witness had left one of their pamphlets. I really like the illustration of Jesus that was on the pamphlet. Jesus has shorter hair than we often see him depicted and he looks more like a man from that part of the world than we normally see him. And he has muscles! (I think it is a portrayal even Mark Driscoll would like!) I went online to see if their website has the illustration, but they don’t have the one I am talking about. They do have a “head shot” of another illustration done by the same artist, but now I can’t find that online.

            I wish I could find the full illustration. It shows Jesus in the purple robe, wearing a crown of thorns and with his hands tied. It’s sad to see and yet I am glad that it depicts him as he may have really looked. I saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” (or a title similar to that) and I just found the scourging and crucifying to be too much to watch. It was a horrific thing to happen to any man and to happen to this perfect man was particularly horrendous. But Gibson devoted too much time, I think. dwelling on each and every whipping of the flesh, etc.

            I can’t begin to imagine the horror of his friends and loved ones seeing this all happen to Jesus. He must have looked so awful by the time he was taken off the cross. Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there!

  2. Thank you for this. This post pierces my heart. I have nothing profound to add except to say that I see myself in every word expressed. Have mercy on me a sinner.

  3. I liked it when you asked, “Just who are the children of those who cried allowed for Jesus to be nailed to a cross? Am I not an offspring of those who insisted that an innocent man pay for crimes he did not commit? And if I had been there in that pre-dawn crowd gathered outside of the governor’s court, would I not have cried with all the others, “Nail him to a cross!””

    Many times we want to stand outside and point fingers. But if we were the ones standing there, we might have done the same thing.

    And He [Jesus] chose to walk that path, for you and I.

  4. The Message is rubbish – it’s a travesty that it is sold as a ‘Bible’ as it is nothing more than a commentary. And a weak one at that! [e.g it dumbs down the sin of homosexuality]

    Your post was powerful though – thank you!

    ps. To be nit picky I’d change the very last line of the chorus………but thats cause I believe the Bible teaches Particular Redemption 😉

    • Matthew, at risk of taking the main blog post off-topic…I just have to say that everyone is welcome to his or her opinion, but I think your terming Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” as “rubbish” to be counter-productive and somewhat cruel to be said from one Christian to another. Eugene and his wife are devoted Christians and I know that his writings and his ministry have brought more people to Jesus than I ever will. Before Eugene published “The Message” he had other people review the entire thing and they did not find fault. Yes, it is very much a paraphrase of the Bible, but it was done to help people to understand what was being said.

      I expect that Chaplain Mike may remove your post and mine will go with it, but I wanted to say this to you in hopes you may see it. I won’t repost about this if and when Chaplain Mike deletes these posts.

    • Matthew, would you re-write John1, verse 29 along with the chorus? “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

    • Warning. What Joanie said.

    • Your post was powerful though – thank you!

      this is a great start…..grow this up and out , some, Matthew, and we would ALL be grateful

      In great need of mercy and grace myself,
      Greg R

  5. Just a note to let you know I have been blessed to find your blog this morning and have enjoyed reading it very much.

    Blessings of peace and all that is good,

  6. Thanks for the kind comments. I am not Catholic (no one’s perfect, I guess), but these stations have always moved me greatly. Our church in Tulsa sets up the stations each Good Friday, and every year I leave the stations with my heart ripped in shreds. To taste even the tiniest drop of the sufferings Jesus bore on my behalf is more than I can handle.

    I will be following the traditional form this year. Next year, perhaps we will follow the more contemporary stations. Neither is better than the other. And, yes, I plan to add a fifteenth station: The Resurrection.


  7. The stations are a beautiful thing. I just recently introduced my nephew-in-law (if that’s a word!) to the concept when we walked into an old Catholic church together to see the interior.