Today is Good Friday. Today we walk the Via Dolorosa. The way of grief or sorrow. It is the road Jesus walked, through Jerusalem, on his way to the crucifixion.
It is a painful story, filled with such mockery and hatred. It is filled with blood and dirt.
Jesus falls, several times. His burden is too great for him to bear.
But another picks it up…Simon the Cyrene.
He encounters women mourning for him, but all Jesus sees is their suffering. His heart breaks for them.
Jesus sees his mother. He tells John to care for her.
The thief next to him asks for a favor…remember me? Jesus’s response…I will.
As we walk this road, we pause at each of these stations. We reflect. We examine our hearts. Because Jesus is doing more than bearing his cross. He is helping us to carry ours. And as slight and as small as the sliver of cross we bear, it is somehow sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Paul tells us that as we share in his sufferings we share in his glory. Try to wrap your mind around that.
We pause, because otherwise we move too quickly through his pain. And too quickly through our own. We long for the grace of Easter morning. But first we must contemplate the enormity of the cost. Because when we stare into the heart of the crucifixion, we see into the very heart of the creator of the universe. What exists there is a purity of love so deep that it would give up everything for the ones He loves. For you.
There is a wonderful moment in John’s gospel before Jesus feeds the 5000. “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”
Jesus is always teaching. Always demonstrating. Not just walking on water Himself, but welcoming us outside of the boat.
In Mat. 16 Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
Tonight, we join Jesus on the road of suffering. And we realize that he is doing more than bearing our burden for us. He is teaching us how to carry our own. And as we do, He is speaking those words of encouragement we need so desperately. “You can do this.” “I’m with you.” “Just a little further.”
As we pause, we let the words sink deep into our hearts. They transform our burdens from unbearable weight to light and momentary affliction. And we fix our eyes ahead. To the joy set before us. And we carry on.