“Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” Pilate asked the raucous crowd.
A spark of hope filled my heart, but it was instantly snuffed out by the throng’s wild shouts of “Barabbas!”
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate demanded.
“Crucify him!” they shouted.
I gasped, clutching my breast. My heart felt as though it had been cruelly wrenched from my chest. I’d always known this day was coming, but I’d buried that knowledge in the dark recesses of my mind. Now there was no escape. Tears brimmed in my eyes, blurring my vision.
“Why? What crime has he committed?” Pilate responded, trying to restore some reason to this unruly mob. Pilate was no fool. He knew why the chief priests and elders had brought Jesus before him. They’d whipped up the masses into this frenzied state, convincing them to demand Jesus’s crucifixion.
The seething horde simply shouted even louder: “Crucify him!”
Blinded by my tears, I tried desperately to force my way through the crush of the crowd. If only I could reach my precious son. Tears streamed down my cheeks, but I made no effort to wipe them away. I needed to get to Jesus, to wrap my arms around Him and protect Him, as I’d always done.
Pilate now realized there was no hope of reasoning with this rabble. Amidst the roar of the crowd, he rose from his judge’s seat and poured water over his hands, symbolically washing away any culpability for what was to come. “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility!”
Afterwards, Pilate released Barabbas and ordered Jesus flogged before handing Him over to be crucified. My hands flew to my mouth to stifle my anguished cries. As the governor’s guards scourged my son’s flesh, I heard a scream in the crowd. Then I realized it had been my own.
I followed the Roman soldiers as they led Jesus to the governor’s palace. There they stripped my son of His clothes, dressed Him in a scarlet robe, and fashioned a crown of thorns they placed upon His head. I wrung my hands helplessly as blood began trickling down His forehead. Then the soldiers put a staff in Jesus’s right hand and knelt before Him, mocking Him with “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, took the staff, and began striking His head repeatedly. My heart ached to cup my son’s disfigured face in my hands, kiss His swollen lips, and tell Him once more how dearly I loved Him.
Finally, the soldiers put Jesus’s clothes back on Him. Then they forced Him to carry His own cross as they led Him away to be crucified. Weak from the flogging, Jesus collapsed and was unable to continue up the hill to Calvary. My heart broke at the sight of my once strong carpenter son brought to His knees by the weight of that heavy timber. The soldiers pulled a man from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene, forcing him to carry Jesus’s cross. When they reached Golgotha, “the place of the skulls,” they began nailing my son’s hands to the cross.
Every time a soldier pounded a nail through Jesus’s hands and feet, I felt as though it were piercing my heart. Those hands I’d held so tightly; those feet I’d washed so tenderly. When the soldiers hoisted that heavy cross and let it fall into its moorings, sobs suddenly wracked my body. I huddled close to the foot of the cross; determined to keep vigil over my dying son despite the vitriol flung by belligerent bystanders.
I remained by my son’s side throughout the growing darkness; silently pleading with God to quickly end His suffering. How much more could Jesus endure? At last, I heard Him cry out, “It is finished.” No more pain; no more suffering. “Thank you, God!” Despite my deep sorrow at the loss of my precious son, I finally felt at peace, knowing He was now in the loving hands of His Heavenly Father.