I. Jesus is condemned to death
“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!”
Jesus stood before Pilate and the crowd, completely alone, having been betrayed by who he thought was a friend, one of the 12. No one spoke out for him. No one stood up to defend him. His own people condemned him to death. There are people in our world that don’t have anyone standing up for them and for their rights. We need to be people who stand up for truth and justice. Let us take a few moments today to stand in solidarity and pray for our Brothers and Sisters who feel alone in this world. Especially during this time of global crisis.
II. Jesus takes up his cross
"They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand.
Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him."
Jesus, condemned and mocked for ‘claiming’ to be the king.
He accepted all of this knowing that this was part of the journey he must take to free us from our sin. The cross heavy and he begins the gruelling journey to Golgotha. The cross is a sign of the sins and burdens that Jesus carries for us. Let us take a few moments today to acknowledge our sins and remember the price that was paid in order for us to be free.
III. Jesus falls for the first time
"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."
The Cross Jesus carried was heavy, weighing down on his back, crippling him. Eventually the weight became too much. Jesus became weak and fell under the weight of the cross. Nobody wanted to help you, no one stopped to lend a hand. In our lives things can get a little too much sometimes. We feel things weighing us down, but when things get tough, we know we can turn to God and ask for the strength to carry on. Let us take a few moments today to ask God to help us in our time of need, and to help and support all those people who are caring for others especially at this time.
IV. Jesus meets his mother
Then Simon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
On the journey to Jesus’ death we see Mary. When all the other disciples had deserted him, Mary stands firmly by her sons’ side. The agony that she must have felt watching her son be tortured and rejected by so many, yet she remains with him. A mother’s love like no other. We all have that one person in our lives that is with us through everything. Through the good times and the bad. Let us take a few moments to pray for that person and to thank God for their constant love and support in our own times of need.
V. Simon helps Jesus carry his cross
"As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross."
The soldiers became impatient. This was taking longer than expected and they were afraid that he wouldn't make it to the top of the hill where he was to be crucified. Simon of Cyrene was on his way home returning from work when he was forced out of the crowd and made to carry Jesus’ cross. As Christians we are taught to show kindness and compassion to everyone we meet, like Simon did when he helped Jesus. Let us take a few moments today to show kindness and love to somebody. Whether that be simply sending a kind message to a friend or making a family member a cup of tea.
VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
"My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour."
A young woman comes out from the crowd her name is Veronica. She takes out a cloth and begins to wipe the blood and sweat from Jesus’ face. She can't do much but she offers what little help she can. She was not deterred by the brutality of the soldiers and the fear which scared away the disciples. Amid everything going on she shows courage to reach out to Jesus.
There are times in our lives that we need to have the courage that Veronica had. To stand up for what is right. Let us take a few moments today to ask God for courage to face what is put in our path.
VII. Jesus falls for the second time
"I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;
He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.
He has broken my teeth with gravel, he has trampled me in the dust."
Jesus falls for the second time. The cross grows heavier and heavier and it becomes more difficult to get up. But Jesus continues to struggle. He doesn't give up. There are times when we fall too. But you lift us up when we cannot rise from the dust. You free us from the bonds of sin. Instead of a heart of stone you give us a heart of flesh, a heart capable of love. Let us take a few moments today to recognise the needs of others help us to lift one another up and continue.
VIII. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
"Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children."
As Jesus continues on his journey he meets the women of Jerusalem weeping. He stops and spends a few moments with them, comforting them. When Jesus was suffering the most he stopped to show compassion and to share the message of repentance. We are like the women of Jerusalem, looking for Jesus to comfort us in our time of need, and he so willingly does. Let us take a few moments today to remember the sacrifice that he made for us, and the immense love of God, whose arms are open ready to comfort us.
IX. Jesus falls for the third time
"It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust-
there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."
Not once, not twice but three times Jesus fell. Each time it was harder to continue. People hoped that he would not rise up and continue. The crowd still hurling abuse. His journey is almost over, he can see the end. It would have been so easy to give up right there, but he rose up and continued to carry his cross up to Golgotha. We too fall many times in life. We make mistakes and we turn away from God. It is completely human to do this. Let us take a few moments today to reflect on our current situation in the world. Many people are hurting, many people looking for answers and so we ask God to be with us all in this uncertain time.
X. Jesus is stripped of his garments
"They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there."
Jesus was stripped of his clothes. Torn away from him and divide up against the soldiers by casting lots. They take away what was left of your dignity. Exposed and cast out of society. The humiliation is almost over.
In Jesus’ time the clothes you wore gave a man his social position. It makes him a somebody. To take that away made Jesus a nobody. There are times when we do this to others. We say hurtful things, or unkind acts towards people. Let us take a few moments today to think about the power we have in our words and actions, and through our kindness and love we can turn a nobody into a somebody.
XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross
"Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews. Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him."
The time has come for Jesus to be nailed to the cross. Without resistance he is stretched out and brutally nailed to the cross. Tearing holes in his hands and his feet. He is crucified next to two criminals who continued with the mockery.
Let us take a few moments today to reflect on the journey that Jesus has taken so far. The pain and the torture, the mockery, the humiliation. The Journey to Golgotha.
XII. Jesus dies on the cross
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" That is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah". And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him". And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit". When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
The hour has come. The ultimate price has been paid. Jesus has given his life for each and every one of us. Let us take a few moments today, to consider the immensity of Jesus’ love for us.
XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross
"When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him."
Tortured to death. What Jesus endured was unimaginable, but when he died on the cross, their eyes were opened and saw who he truly was, the Son of God. Gently Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his loving mother. The whole world dark in grief. What had they just done?
Sometimes our world goes dark. We struggle and we find things unbearable. Its in those times that we can forget God’s presence. But no matter how dark and difficult things are God is there. He is our light in the darkness. Let us take a few moments today to ask God to be with us in all our difficult times and to thank Him for his unconditional love and support.
XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb
"Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre."
Jesus’ friends took his body away to be buried, and following the Jewish customs laid the body to rest in a clean linen shroud and placed him in the tomb. Today we find out that he has risen! That Jesus is alive. Let us take a few moments today to remember the sacrifice, but also to share in the Joy that is the risen Lord.