Station 2: Jesus carries the weight of the cross
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As Jesus is led toward the place of the skull his fate is now sealed. Despite his best attempts to bring healing, hope, freedom, forgiveness and inclusion, the powers that be had created a system in which the benefits of empire and status quo were too good to allow any disruption.
Jesus was painted into a monster, utterly disruptive to the fabric of society.
When a monster is created out of a human being we grant ourselves the privilege and license of dehumanizing them. In Unclean, Richard Beck writes:
Jesus unmasks the scapegoating mechanism by being declared ‘innocent’ (in the eyes of the gospel reader) while the characters in the story scapegoat Jesus as ‘guilty.’ We are aware, as we read the gospels, that a peace has been achieved, but it is a peace predicated upon killing . . . But for the readers of the gospel, the violent mechanism of this ‘peace’ is exposed and discredited. The ‘peace’ of sacrifice is no peace at all. We know the scapegoat was innocent.
The crowd sentencing Jesus to death assumed that simply removing the man from among them will solve their problems. However, the Gospels reveal that the problem was not Jesus, but rather a system that was exploiting religious dedication and using religion to breed exclusion and disgust. Exclusion is very easy. It is something that we ourselves are too good at. As Jesus was expelled from his community and excluded, he endured the very pain he was trying to mend. He blurred the lines between acceptable and unacceptable, right and wrong, proper and improper.
Excluding others and creating inequalities based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or ability reveals our inner fears of equality being disruptive to society and a threat to our own security. These fears are kernels of wheat that Jesus tells us must fall to the ground so that something better might come forth.
Prayer: May I resist that which dehumanizes and excludes others. God, may I see others through your eyes, in which all of us are beloved children.
1. Richard Beck, Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2011), 98.