By Rev. Brittany Graves

In this week that many of us have celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, I cannot help but think about the haunting overlap it has with the trial of George Floyd’s death.

It makes me think about the trial and death of Jesus. While, we often recount the people closest to Jesus grieving, I imagine how the people closest to Pontius Pilate must have felt. Did they go on with business as usual, make remarks about what Jesus’ life meant, or question what he must’ve done to be so severely punished?

I wonder if before the disciples of Jesus are able to spread the news, the dominant narrative from Pontius Pilate’s crew was one of honoring the law without question, deeming it tried and true. Would the people that most wanted Jesus killed have no remorse about his affliction and see more value in maintaining the status quo?

It does not take long to feel triggered by images of violent death against black and brown people, too easily displayed on media outlets. Nearly one year after George Floyd’s death and seeing glimpses of his last moments alive take you back to the ever-present grief and continued desire for justice. And to see Chauvin’s defense team make a mockery of George Floyd’s life challenges and place undue blame to gaslight the truth is very telling to whom the criminal justice system does and does not serve.

It feels like no coincidence that we have the opportunity to sit with two trials this week, the trial leading to Jesus' crucifixion and the trial of George Floyd’s death. May we dismantle and discern how to tell the story of a man’s life lost to injustice.

Quote from James Cone’s, The Cross and The Lynching Tree:

“The cross and the lynching tree interpret each other. Both were public spectacles, shameful events, instruments of punishment reserved for the most despised people in society. Any genuine theology and any genuine preaching of the Christian gospel must be measured against the test of the scandal of the cross and the lynching tree. 'Jesus did not die a gentle death like Socrates, with his cup of hemlock....Rather, he died like a [lynched black victim] or a common [black] criminal in torment, on the tree of shame.' The crowd's shout 'Crucify him!' (Mk 15:14) anticipated the white mob's shout 'Lynch him!' Jesus' agonizing final cry of abandonment from the cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mk 15:34), was similar to the lynched victim Sam Hose's awful scream as he drew his last breath, 'Oh, my God! Oh, Jesus.' In each case it was a cruel, agonizing, and contemptible death.” 

Questions to consider:

  • What connections do you see in the trial this week to the Easter story?
  • How can we honor George Floyd’s life in a system that does not honor him?

What you can do:

  • When necessary set boundaries with how much news or media to consume
  • Bring a new narrative to dismantle injustice


Present God, may you be with us in our grief. May you be with us in our discerning. May you be with us in our dismantling. Let death give us rebirth and opportunity to bring new growth. Give us the hope and courage to focus on creating life anew. Bless us with perspective that sustains our being and our doing.


Rev. Brittany Graves is associate coordinator, Public Witness & Advocacy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies. She welcomes your input at [email protected] and engagement on Instagram @ambitiouslyBrittany.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels