This week we will be focusing on the Stations of the Cross, the series of events on Jesus’ last day leading up to His crucifixion. Depictions of these events can often be found in the form of paintings or carvings in churches or cathedrals. Of the twelve stations known, we will focus on the eight mentioned in the Bible, focusing on the meaning of the cross.
Jesus carried his own cross out of the city to the place called “The Skull,” which in Aramaic is Golgotha. And there they nailed him to the cross. He was crucified, along with two others, one on each side with Jesus in the middle.
Jesus is nailed to the cross.
Crucifixions did not always involve being nailed to the cross. Some were tied to the cross. Regardless of the method, all would lose strength and the weight of their body would cause asphyxiation. Even for today’s reader of the bible, being nailed to a cross gives a sense of the hatred and bitterness the people had towards Jesus.
Each step in His path towards the cross was filled with unspeakable pain. As He suffered on the cross, people laughed at Him. The soldiers mocked Him saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” One criminal who hung next to Him said “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” Jesus had the power to save himself and the others, but His purpose was to save all of us. I wonder if He had proved them wrong and saved Himself, would they have believed? My suspicion is many still would not have. In our lives, we are all likely witnesses to others’ denial of who Jesus is.
When our hearts and eyes are opened to the truth, we want nothing more than to know others also believe. As Jesus endured the mockery, His prayer was “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. He didn’t reply: “don’t you get it?” or “I condemn you to death”. He instead demonstrated love, compassion, and a desire for others to know the truth. As a follower of Jesus, we are called to do the same. It isn’t about judgment, debate, or coercion; it is being more and more like Him.
No matter what we think of others and their beliefs, we are to love and demonstrate who Jesus is. That is when others will desire to know Him, too. After the criminal mockingly asked Jesus to save them, the second criminal scolded him saying, “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” As he watched how Jesus conducted himself through His ordeal, his heart opened to the truth of who Jesus was. He asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Just as Jesus modeled this compassion and love, we can demonstrate the same so others come to believe when they watch us.
Ref: Luke 23:34,36,39,40-41; Luke 42-43