Journey with Jesus to the Cross


We are spending time reading through, meditating on, and interacting with scripture.  Specifically, there are 9 stations ascending up the driveway with verses and scenes from Jesus’ crucifixion.  You have over an hour to move at your own pace, and we will conclude our night by singing together as a community.  




Here are some tips for you:

  • Take your time.  The goal is not to get to all the stations, the goal is to interact with the Spirit.  When something moves you or comes up in your prayer, explore it.

  • Ask for God to speak & listen.  The Spirit will guide you so notice the thoughts and emotions that arise. We are encouraging you to use your imagination and  These might not be rabbit trails, but something that God is initiating.

  • Boldly respond how you are led.  You are encouraged to respond to the Spirit.  If that is seeking someone to pray with, do it.  If that is laying on your face, do it. If it is something not on the card, do it.

#1 Jesus is Condemned to Death


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).


When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” He (Pilate) had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:11-26).


Jesus stands alone, falsely accused by the very ones with whom he walked, who witnessed his miracles, and heard his teachings. These individuals now cry out and demand his death, death on a cross – Jesus is not recognized, not accepted, not understood (John 1:10, 11) but despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3) by the very ones to whom he came. Yet, Jesus continues to say yes to God, trusting God (1 Peter 4:19).



Ponder what it might have been like for Jesus to stand alone, falsely accused and condemned to a horrific and humiliating death on a cross, while also knowing that at any time, he had the power to stop this craziness.


After you are done pondering, spend some time thanking Jesus for his willingness to suffer, recalling to mind that “by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 1:24).


Closing Prayer (you will do this at every station):


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#2 Jesus Carries the Cross


God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17).


But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:5)


Jesus said to all: “Whoever wishes to be My follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in My steps" (Luke 9:23).


They stripped him and put a purple robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they led him away to crucify him (Matthew 27:27-31). Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha) (John 19:17).


Jesus receives his cross, living out the words he spoke to those who desire to be his disciples, and heads off to his death. Put yourself into the story.


Jesus has been beaten and now, the heavy crossbeam of a cross is placed upon his bleeding shoulders and he is pushed and prodded toward the place he will be crucified. He shuffles more than walks and continues forward.


What do you want to say to Jesus? Spend some time talking with Jesus about his journey to the cross.


Closing:


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


# 3 Jesus Stumbles


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).


Imagine:

Jesus—fully man, God incarnate, tempted in all ways like us, one who experienced hunger, thirst, and weariness, just like us—after being beaten, collapses under the weight of the cross, under the weight of what his ‘yes’ to God means for him. Jesus is one of us, human, beaten down, even stumbling; and yet, he continues, spurred on by love of God, trust in God and a deep love of for you and me. The weight of the cross and that which is soon to come weakens his body and may even trouble his mind and spirit, but his resolve is unaffected. Jesus continues to the place of the skull, to Golgotha.




Spend some time considering Jesus in his humanity, one who could feel just like you the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain that life brings. See him stumble, the weight of cross forcing him to the ground, the dust kicking up. Hear the taunts of the crowd, the angry voices of the guards, to get up and keep going.


What do you want to say to Jesus? What are the feelings that arise within you as you consider Jesus and what he is going through?


Share your feelings and thoughts with Jesus.


Closing:


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#4  Simon Helps Carry the Cross


As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. (Matthew 27:32)


A person from the crowd is ordered by the guards to carry the cross of Jesus. This is no act of kindness by the guards but one of necessity. Jesus is becoming weaker and slowing down with each step. The pace needs to be quickened and Jesus needs to make it to the crucifixion alive. So, Simon is forced into cross-carrying duty and becomes a forced accomplice in the crucifixion of Jesus. Has he been mocking Jesus or is he possibly sympathetic to the plight of Jesus – we do not know. The cross is taken from the shoulders of Jesus and placed upon the shoulders of Simon; and the death march continues. Jesus accepts the help of another and the two plod onward.


Imagine you are Simon. What do you want to say to Jesus?

What do you see in Jesus’ eyes as the cross to taken from him and given to you? What are you feeling/thinking as the cross is placed on your shoulders, as you become a part this drama of death?


As you reflect on all this, how does it make you feel about, or toward Jesus? If you could be transported back in time to this event, what would you want to say to Jesus knowing what you know now? What does Jesus want to say to you?


Spend some time speaking with and listening to Jesus.


Closing


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#5 Jesus Speaks with the Women of Jerusalem


A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:27-28)


The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)


Jesus—once again as so many times before—moved by compassion, speaks to those who are weeping for him. Jesus, as always, speaks with grace and communicates truth; for Jesus is the truth as well as the way and the life. At a time when many would be overwhelmed by their own situation and bemoaning their own dire circumstances, Jesus is concerned about the plight of others.


As you have journeyed thus far with Jesus to the cross, what feelings are arising within you toward Jesus? What might Jesus have to say to you as he passes? Spend some time listening for Jesus’ words to you.


Thank Jesus for being one who is able to be with you in the stuff of your own life – one who will share with you the twin gifts of grace and truth.


Closing


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#6 Jesus is Nailed to the Cross


It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Mark 15:25-32)



“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:14-15, 18)


Jesus extends his hand and a man takes a long heavy nail and feeling for the space just above the wrist, he feels for the place to drive the nail. Once finding the spot, he raises the hammer high and sends it crashing down on the head of the nail driving it through Jesus flesh and into the wooden cross beam below. He will repeat this with the other hand and then the feet. All the while Jesus is mocked, his identity denied, his power still masked. He is there by choice; he is enduring this agony for something far more precious to him than comfort, notoriety, earthly power or riches. There is a joy for which Jesus reaches that exceeds all he is currently enduring.


Spend some time pondering the joy that fuels Jesus’ desire and ability to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2). What is this joy? Spend some time considering what you would say to Jesus as he is nailed to the cross. What does Jesus say to you and how are you a part of the very joy Jesus is seeking?


Closing

Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#7 Jesus Dies


When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (John 19:30-34)


Surely he took up our pain, and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)




Spend a few moments imagining Jesus’ body on the cross.  What thoughts and emotions are there? What would this feel like to the disciples?  Consider and thank Jesus that this moment that seemed hopeless and the end, turns out to be the moment our freedom and hope are found.


Closing

Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#8 Joseph Takes Jesus Down From the Cross


This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid. (Mark 15:42-47)


Jesus’ life comes to an end. The crowds disperse and the religious leaders celebrate a victory won. A man name Joseph comes forward and asks for the body of Jesus. His request is granted; and as a final act of love and faith, Joseph takes down the body and so it can be prepared for burial.


Imagine you are there, a follower of Jesus, who has watched from afar all day. You still stand at a distance as Joseph and others labor to remove the lifeless body of Jesus from the cross. They turn to you and ask for your help – what do you do? If you do help, what feelings stir within you as you see the beaten body of Jesus, as you notice the wounds in his hands, feet and side? What words are birthed within you as you gaze upon the body of Jesus – a life that has come to an end too soon? If you decide not to help, why not? Either way, share your thoughts and feeling with Jesus.


Closing


Jesus Christ Crucified. Have mercy on me.


#9  Jesus Laid in the Tomb


Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)


God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)


Spend the remaining time thinking about what your experience with this.

What have been the results of your journey in regards to your image of Jesus, your appreciation for who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for you?

What are the invitations and challenges for how you are to live?



Waiting & Anticipating the Resurrection


We know the rest of the Story.  On Sunday Jesus rises! This single event has changed the world.  But, tonight we are focusing on his death. Before something can be made new, the old must die first.  


If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)