“‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the
Messiah?’ Pilate asked.
They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’” – Matt 27:22
“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” – Acts 2:23
Although we were not part of that first century mob, Christians have recognized throughout the centuries that there is an important sense in which it was us who nailed Jesus to the cross. Think, for instance, of these lines from Charles Wesley’s classic hymn “And Can It Be”:
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued.
Or, for a modern example, think of “How Deep the Father’s Love” by Stuart Townend:
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
For a visual depiction, look up The Raising of the Cross by Rembrandt, and notice that, in the center of the painting, the artist himself is portrayed as being the one responsible for the raising of the cross. Take a minute to imagine yourself painted into that picture.
Now read the following hymn by Horatius Bonar, recognizing these words as your own.
I see the crowd in Pilate’s hall,
their furious cries I hear;
their shouts of “Crucify!” appall,
their curses fill mine ear.
And of that shouting multitude
I feel that I am one,
and in that din of voices rude
I recognize my own.
I see the scourgers rend the flesh
of God’s belovèd Son;
and as they smite I feel afresh
that I of them am one.
Around the Cross the throng I see
that mock the Sufferer’s groan,
yet still my voice it seems to be,
as if I mocked alone.
‘Twas I that shed that sacred Blood,
I nailed him to the Tree,
I crucified the Christ of God,
I joined the mockery.
Yet not the less that Blood avails
to cleanse me from sin,
and not the less that Cross prevails
to give me peace within.
Spend some time in repentance before moving on to worship.