Crucified Under Pontius Pilate
by Rich Maffeo
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate . . .
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated Him on the judge's bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha . . . Then he handed Him over to them to be crucified (John 19:13,16).
When my wife was five, she discovered who killed Jesus.
"I positioned the pointed end of a bobby pin against Mom's hand," Nancy said. She thought if she nailed her mother to the bed she wouldn't get up and take care of the new baby. She'd have Mommy all to herself.
"Pound, Pound," she said as she tapped the bobby pin with her fist.
Her mother woke with a start and grabbed the pin from Nancy's hand. "What are you doing?" her mom shouted. "That's what people did to Jesus."
Her face suddenly flushed with shame, Nancy ran to her bedroom, hid beneath her blanket and sobbed. She remembers the guilt that flooded over her. "I was only five, but I wondered if I was like the people who nailed Jesus to the cross. I loved Jesus. I'd never do anything to hurt Him."
Who killed Jesus?
It's easy to cast blame for Jesus' death on first century religious and political leaders. But when we do, we miss the point of the crucifixion. We miss the reason God sent His Son as the atonement for our sins.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote: "He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. . . . the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all" (Isaiah 53:5, 6).
St. Paul told us Christ was handed over for our transgressions (Romans 4:25), and, "Our old self was crucified with Him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin" (Romans 6:6).
Long before my wife learned the theology of sin and salvation, she knew intuitively as a kindergartner what many adults go to their grave never learning. The Jews didn't kill Jesus. Pilate and the Romans didn't kill Him.
Our sins killed the holy Son of God as surely as if we ourselves hammered the spikes into His hands and jabbed the spear into His side.
The words of the Creed, "He was crucified under Pontius Pilate," invite us to remember the Roman governor was not the only one responsible for Jesus' death. Our sins whipped His back and pressed thorns into His forehead. Our sins nailed Him to that splintered cross. In the timelessness of God's eternity, we were there when they crucified the Lord. We were there when they laid Him in the tomb.
And we were there when He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so sorry my sins nailed You to that cross. Forgive me. Show me the depth of my sin, that I might understand the depth of Your love. Lead me to deeper repentance and more faithful obedience. Amen.
Next time: Crucified Under Pontius Pilate
These meditations are compiled in Richard Maffeo's book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website
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