Good Friday Reflections on the Stations of the Cross

The first station: Jesus is condemned to die.

In my life, there was a particular moment in time when I said, yes, I want to follow Jesus. It was Good Friday, 1980. I had heard about Jesus and the Cross for years. But for some reason on that night, it seemed to sink in like never before. It was like someone opened the curtain and let the sunlight of God's love in. It wasn't the end of all doubt but it was the beginning of a devotion to Jesus that has sustained me for 25 years and I trust will to the end of my days. It was reflecting on Jesus journey to the Cross that began my journey to follow him.

The second station: Jesus carries his cross.

The wood ... the feeling of splinters in the hands ... even the tiniest slivers hurt. I've know this feeling. And I wonder about Jesus having these in addition to the flogging he had endured. And the heavy weight of the Cross. Unimaginable. The most physically demanding thing I have ever done was complete a race of 26.2 miles. I've done it three times. Toward the end when you feel you have nothing left you reach deep down to find something to keep going on. And what keeps you going is that many months earlier you set the goal before yourself. Jesus endured the Cross because He was doing it to give us life.

The third station: Jesus falls the first time.

I found myself thinking of sickness. I found myself thinking of the times I've been sick and unable to do anything. Last October, I was hospitalized for one week and recovered at home for an additional two and half weeks. I felt so helpless. When Jesus falls and is on the ground in pain. He knows our feelings of helplessness.

The fourth station: Jesus meets his mother.

I don't know why but as I mediated on this I found myself thinking of orphans. People with no one to call mom or dad. I have tears in my eyes when I think that for some children, when they hear the words heavenly father they think of their earthly father and they recoil. I picture Jesus and Mary his mother sharing in this moment just a glance but with it is all the years of a mother's love. And now, it is her love that is part of what sustains Jesus on the mission of love to all humanity. For those who have broken homes, I can only say Jesus is there for you.

The fifth station: Simon helps Jesus carry his cross.

In the film, The Passion of the Christ, Gibson speculated on what the interaction with Simon who helped carry the Cross would be like. Initially reluctant but in the end standing in solidarity. Help me to be like a Simon to those God brings to my life. Help me stand with others in their time of need. Help me to be humble enough to accept help when I need it.

The sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A cup of water for the thirsty. Some food for the hungry. A word to the lonely. Clothes for the cold. Whatever need someone may have, meet it. We are to give to others as unto Jesus. Because Jesus has done it for us and so much more.

The seventh station: Jesus falls the second time.

I found myself thinking of Terri Schiavo dying in Florida. Jesus falls. He is dying. He hasn't died yet but he is dying. Jesus knows this feeling of lingering between life and death. Yet, I wonder about Schiavo ... has Schiavo's soul already been liberated? Is she already dancing in the streets of heaven? I don't know. All I know is that though life is valuable there are things worth dying for. Her death will take on a greater meaning in the days ahead. It will start a conversation about how we care for the helpless. Perhaps, it is time to let her go. But what about others? Jesus has seen death and in the shortest verse in the Bible, it says, Jesus wept. And now, he is dying. Death is sorrowful but death need not be meaningless. Jesus' death is not meaningless. It is for our life.

The eighth station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

Though many in the streets called for Jesus crucifixition and cheered his torment. There were others who knew in their hearts that things were not as they appeared. They quietly mourned the death of Jesus but did not leave the scene because they know something life changing and life giving was happening. As Jesus stuggled through the streets he would see their faces and know what was in their hearts. It was his mission and he could see it was already successful in the hearts of those who were there with him, for him, believing in him. How much did this help him continue the journey? We can't know how much our faith means to Jesus.

The ninth station: Jesus falls the third time.

Brokenness. A complete mess. We are that. I am that. And Jesus knows this feeling. And he redeems us. He transforms us. We are now Broken Masterpieces because in His love He has made us new.

The tenth station: Jesus is stripped.

Hell was having a party. But it was just the darkest hour before the dawn of a new day. The great reversal was about to take place. The exchange was about to take place. His death for my sin. The defeat would be the victory to liberate us all.

The eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Nailed to the Cross. The sound of hammer and nail. The gasps of pain. Some cheered the hammer strikes while others felt a stab in their hearts and consciences. He didn't deserve this. Two others would share the same fate on the cross. One would demand to be saved from his physical death. The other would acknowledge he deserved his physical death and requests for something he could not earn ... to be remembered by Jesus.

The twelfth station: Jesus dies on the cross.

Lyrics for the hymn "Amazing Love" came to my mind.
And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
The thirteenth station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Taken down from the cross. Jesus life is totally spent and it was given freely. He had the power to refuse. He did not. How great a love is this? How great a love do I have? Would I freely give and spend my life for the benefit of others? I have the power to refuse and too often do. He has set the example. He has given us life and love so we can give it to others.

The fourteenth station: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

The tomb. The great equalizer. Great and small, rich and poor, young and old, we all wind up here. He has gone there too. And on Sunday, he is victorious over sin and death so we can be freed. The gift is there for us to have. But he won't force us to take it.