Crucifixions were a common thing during Roman rule. They served not so much as death penalties as they were a form of social control. Bodies on crosses were strategically placed at crossroads to remind the people of the power of Rome to crush their dreams for freedom. In that way, they were more like the lynchings that took so many black men’s lives in the Jim Crow south than they were modern forms of capital punishment. “Every cross is a lynching tree, and every lynching tree is a cross,” wrote James Cone. Jesus’ trial was like so many trials of black men during that era: a sham.
Pilate plays a pivotal role in the trial, even though he was just trying to find middle ground, going between the religious officials and Jesus. He was just trying to do his job. Something many of us try to do as we navigate our circumstances.