Summary: The final hours of Jesus
March 25, 2018
Reading: Mark 14:1-15:47
The Stations of the Cross
For years, I have preached the “Stations of the Cross” every Palm Sunday. Why?
That is an excellent question. The answer is simple: The stations represent the final steps of our Savior in His journey to the cross and when we read and understand what transpired at each station, we grasp great truth and a renewed compassion for the One who was sacrificed for you and for me.
The stations of the cross as a reading, as a message or as a program has its roots in the Roman Catholic Church. It originated some time in the 5th century. Originally Christians began travelling to Jerusalem where all of this took place and physically visiting the sites of what is today referred to as the “stations”.
But for us today, let’s not dwell on symbolism, icons or denominational differences. Rather, let’s journey the stations with an eye of compassion and understanding what occurred in those final days and hours.
The very last thing that I want anyone to feel is any sense of legalism or duty – I want us to seek truths hungry for truths and understanding. There are many takes on the stations of the cross and some have more stations than others. Today, I have listed nine. This is an outline with a brief overview of the nine stations. I have visited sites where there are trails in a serene setting that have signs and descriptions of the stations along the way. There is no specific significance to the “stations of the cross” other than to view a chronological journey of Christ from the trial to the tomb.
In outline form:
1. Station 1 – Jesus is condemned
“So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” Mark 15:15
Jesus was fully aware that the chief priests and scribes brought false charges against Him to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. Yet, He stood there in this kangaroo court and offered NO defense or rebuttal to these charges.
Pilate did not wish to condemn Jesus to the cross but also feared that the Jewish leaders might lead a revolt against the government, if he did not.
The charge? They twisted the title King of the Jews, as many followers referred to Jesus.
In other words, the religious leaders would have the Roman government believe that Jesus was trying to overthrow the Roman rule and occupation.
2. Station 2 – Jesus is given a heavy wooden cross to carry to the crucifixion site – Golgatha.
Jesus collapsed under the weight of this heavy cross. Remember that Jesus has forgone all divine power and made this journey in a natural human state.
“And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.” Mark 15:20-22
3. Station 3 – Meets the women of Jerusalem
Even in His tortured and weak state, Jesus reached out in compassion to the crowds and specifically to the women. His message was that they need not weep for Him but for themselves and their families. In the reading that follows, I believe Jesus is saying that the state of the world is in chaos. If those responsible for this can do so publicly and with impunity, what will the future bring?
Look at it this way. Jesus was sacrificed for our salvation – our eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Here on earth, life is full of injustices, hate, sickness, pain and travesty. While here, we can all only strive to share the love and mercy of God, in every phase of our lives. We pray against tyranny, injustice, divisiveness, and travesties of all kinds. Yet they prevail. They prevail because like those times in this reading, Satan continues to hold a grip on all that do not submit to God and for whom the sacrifice of Jesus has little meaning.
When Jesus looked upon His mother, He spoke lovingly to her and said: “Behold you son.”
Jesus then spoke to his beloved disciple John and said, “Behold your mother.”
Jesus did not wish to leave his mother without care and so He directed a mother son relationship between John and His mother.
“And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” Luke 23:27-31