The Via Dolorosa, Station 1
The Via Dolorosa is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem long held to be the road that Jesus struggled down on the way to his crucifixion. Via Dolorosa is a Latin phrase that literally means, The Painful Way. It is lined by images, referred to as The Stations, depicting Christ’s passion. There have been different configurations of the Stations throughout the years. The old standard included 14, but a few of those were extra-biblical. In 1991, Pope John Paul II came out with a revised list of Stations which he named: The Scriptural Way of the Cross. Following a bit of the old tradition with the new, we’ll allow the Stations to carry us through the balance of the book of John. Station 1 begins with Pilate sentencing Jesus to his death.
The great tug of war pitting a maddened multitude and red-faced dogmatists against the solitary figure of a Roman Prefect was over. The numbers won. Jesus would die: “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. ~John 19:15,16.
“Finally Pilate handed him over…” John gives us that word “Finally” as a mark of respect for Pilate. Pilate had given it his best shot. It is commendable how far he had gone in allowing this whole affair to play out. But there were other considerations. It was the Passover and the city was overflowing with the faithful. Not only could a disturbance risk his career, this angry crowd could easily overrun his palace and slaughter he and his wife. Was Jesus worth all that? Most definitely not. Thus, he held his nose, washed his hands and “…handed him over to them.”
Jesus had already been batted about during his interview with Annas and Caiaphas. He had been flogged again just before Pilate stood him before the crowd one last time. By this point, many such victims suffering this kind of torture would have gone into shock, fainted away and simply bled out. But there was more suffering to be accomplished. There was a cross to be given and a cross to be won. In this, the determination of the crowd and the determination of Jesus came together.