Summary: Suffering is universal. Everyone experiences it. None escape it. It is part and parcel of the human condition. Many Evangelicals love to focus on “health/wealth/blessings” forgetting to teach the other “side of the coin”. As such people are ill-equipped to deal with life’s many harsh blows.
Message by Pr. Eddie Fernandes
Hold On Video (lights off…video begins…video ends…lights on…Eddie & Marta on stage) Hold on! How many of you need to take hold of God’s hand this morning because you are struggling? Life hasn’t been easy. Perhaps you’ve lost your job. Maybe the money in the bank account has run out and you cannot pay all your bills. Perhaps you’ve lost a friend or a loved one. You could be separated from your family and country. Or, you are overwhelmed by all of the hatred, racism, anger, evil and sin in the world. You listen to me today a depleted and tired person. You could be sitting there sick in body or in mind, in need of a refresh, of a recharge; in need of love and joy, thirsting for peace and happiness.
We have arrived at the 5th station of the cross today and my message title is: Slide 1 (title) The Via Dolorosa – The universality of suffering. The key people we will focus on is Jesus as he walked the Via Dolorosa. The key teaching is SUFFERING/PAIN. And our Key Scriptures are found in John 19 and in Mark 15.
We begin with the key scripture selecting verses from Mark’s Gospel: Slide 2a (verse) “15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. 16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, ‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ Slide 2b (verse) 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified … 22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘Place of the Skull’) … 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross … 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.”
A normal life Slide 3 (sub-title).
Jesus was 30 years old when He was crucified. His life had been a normal life up to that point. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John don’t tell us much about his early years. We know only about His miraculous birth, the family’s escape to Egypt, their return to Nazareth, His remarkable wisdom, even as a child, and His visit to the Temple in Jerusalem at age 12. There He debated the most learned Rabbi’s. Some of the Apocryphal literature gives us more details yet we cannot rely on veracity of those accounts as they are contested by most theologians. But we can learn a lot from the context of the place, the people, and the culture He grew up in. He was a Jew, living in Israel and specifically in the region of Galilee. Jerusalem, the capital, was the seat of political and religious power. The Galileans were frowned upon by the educated elite because they were poorer, they didn’t have much education, most were tradesmen, plus they had funny accents. The educated and wealthy elite treated them like people in Lisbon often treat people from my late mother’s region called Alentejo. In Portugal most of the jokes are made about Alentejanos. In similar fashion the Jews mocked those from Galilee, calling them fools and saying that nothing good could ever come from places like the small town of Nazareth in Galilee. In His Omniscience and Sovereignty, revealing His heart for the poor, for the outsider and the disenfranchised, God chose to have the King of the Universe incarnate and grow up in that tiny, backwater and frowned-upon place, among carpenters, farmers, tradesmen and fishermen.
Like every boy His age Jesus must have attended a Jewish school by age six and His parables reveal His background. He was well acquainted with the fishing industry, shepherds with their sheep, marriage celebrations, foxes in their lairs, tax collectors banging at the door, widows looking for lost coins, bakers kneading bread, Roman soldiers oppressing people, and the poor begging in the streets. He grew up as any human being did in His day.
Then the time came. The Father told the Son: your hour has come. Jesus selected 12 men to follow Him as Disciples. In 3 ½ years they travelled the length and breadth of Israel as Jesus exploded on the scene as one of the most remarkable leaders of all time. The Jews knew all about their prophets and they we all exposed to in-depth studies about their religious leaders. Theirs was a history of Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, Prophets and miracle workers. Yet, this man whom people were calling Yeshua Hamachiah was unlike anyone they had ever seen or heard about. He had all the functions, roles and qualities of their revered leaders, in one package. He said things nobody had ever heard. He did things nobody had ever seen. His power and His wisdom were not of this world. They followed Him by the thousands hanging on His every word.