The Way of the Cross: Taking the Cross (John 19:6, 15-17)

As we prepare for Easter, past and present Pepperdiners contribute reflections on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Today’s is from Justin Schneider, a graduate of both Seaver College and the School of Law.

John 19:6, 15-17 Jesus Bears the Cross

For the Seventh Station, Jesus bore the cross on his beaten and torn body.

But just before that, like so many other stations, Jesus became a background character in his own story. He offered us an opportunity to learn from the other person in the scene. The Seventh Station offers a chance to reflect on how we might act differently in our own lives.

Here, Pontius Pilate gets another chance to choose justice. The Apostle John zooms in on Pilate as the star of this moment.

Pilate, the representative of Rome in Jerusalem was respected and feared. As the representative of the occupying force, he was also despised. Pilate’s game was a political game: How do you maintain peace and order over a population that hates you?

Already having found no fault in Jesus but cracking before the pressure of the Jewish leaders, Jesus was sentenced to die. Again, Pilate stands before the people trying to appeal to them. He attempts to play on their Jewish heritage by offering them their “king.”

The Jewish leaders are smarter than that, though. Pilate is turned back with a strong dose of reverse psychology: “We have no king but Caesar.”

Trapped. Now Pilate was either against the Jews and his own employer, or he had to allow a man with whom he found no fault to be killed.

Jesus already knew what the answer would be, but this part isn’t about him; it’s about Pilate. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Pilate had said, “No.” The world was against him. But what if he had stood up and fought for justice to take place?

In the end we’ll never know. Jesus took the story back when he took the accursed tree on his back. And with it, he took the shame so that we wouldn’t have to.

My time at Pepperdine didn’t produce many opportunities or challenges where I stood against the power of the institution or the religious leaders for a cause greater than the status quo. In the moments that did occur, however, I performed as Pontius Pilate all over again. My political game was one that saved me the most friends, sometimes leaving other “friends” to suffer attacks and shame.

Even now I’m not sure I could stand up at the right time. But I’m haunted by the “what ifs.” One thing is certain: Jesus calls us to stand up, to fight for the least of his. And in the end, we will carry our cross next to him.

Justin currently works as the Legal Fellow for IJM‘s Thailand Office. Justin struggles with narcissism, pride, the need for control, and pornography. As such, he is a man who is eternally grateful that Jesus carried the cross for him. While Justin can be found in Thailand, many of his words are at Justin Schneider’s Blog and Twitter where he focuses on questioning answers. Also, Justin has two degrees from Pepperdine and used to work in Student Activities.

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