Good Friday morning-stations of the cross

Dead man walking

The actual route of the Via Dolorosa is uncertain.  Most accept the general location of the Holy Sepulchre, without commitment to any exact place within it as the place of the death or burial of Jesus.  Jesus would have gone on the Way of the Cross from Herod’s Palace, where Pilate condemned him, by a public route, out through the city walls – the aim of the procession was publicity, thereby to instill fear into the people.  Most of us are used to 14 ‘stations of the cross’ on this journey. 

1. Jesus is condemned to death.

He is condemned.  He no longer has any hope that he will survive this.  As long as a man lives, he hopes it will not come to this.  For Jesus, it has.  He does not blame Pilate: he is not a bad man, he was nearly a good man.  Now there is only the silence.  The silence of acceptance

     He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

 2. Jesus carries his cross.

He carries his own cross.  It is his, not another’s.  It is of his own making.  It is the result of his options, his loves, his commitments to people, his way of life, his refusal to back down when confronted.  Have I done anything like that?  What do I believe in that is worth dying for?  Who do I believe in who is worth dying for?  Is my death the outcome of my choices in life, and in love? 

     Jesus falls for the first time.

3.    Jesus falls for the first time.

He has no capacity to carry the cross.  His impotence is exposed to all.... It is exposed to their mockery, to their abuse... They are running him into the ground....literally.   He is on the ground. 

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

4.    Jesus meets his mother.

But she does no mothering here, no nurturing, no protecting from this reality... She is no real help to him now.  She cannot be.  She too is beyond her limits.  He is more alone than ever....and she is, too.  It will only get worse for both of them.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

5.    Simon of Cyrene carries the cross.

Jesus is inadequate.  He does not even attempt any more to carry his cross.  In the shadows, an unknown man is forced to carry it.... without ever having met Jesus, without understanding who Jesus is, without knowing what he himself is forced to do....without being (as yet) a believer.... the patron saint of all those who carry their cross, and the cross of other people, without realizing what they are doing.  Cyrene is in Libya.  Was Simon an African? Was he black?

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

6.    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

They may be an ‘image’ on the cloth, but there is not even a trace of the real truth that is going on.... It is beyond images.  Where Jesus has come, there is no room for illusions, there is just the stark reality of it all.  What is happening cannot be shown or told.  But it can be done, out of love.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

7.    Jesus falls the second time.

He falls now without carrying his cross.  He can’t blame the weight of the cross, he can’t blame anyone else...  He just can’t stand up....  There were many, not just two or three, such falls....How many times had he said to others, arise and walk?

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

8.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

The women are there: but do they really weep for what is going on? Do they weep for Him?  Do they understand him? Even if they care for him?  Is He still misunderstood, even unknown?  Are his tears beyond words, beyond even hos own words to them?

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

9.    Jesus falls the third time.

This is the final fall: there are no more to come.  It is irrevocable now.  He has touched the finality of it all.  It is finished. He is – a fallen person.  He wished he could have carried the cross better. He is ashamed.  He became that for love of me.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

10.    Jesus is stripped of his garments.

He is stripped of any dignity, and any defence.  He is beyond the possibility of personhood in this world.  It is like an annihilation of who he is, of who he has ever been.  He is stripped ofr both his eternity and his humanity.  He is exposed to the world like that…because he loved all of us.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

11.    Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Nailed, to what is ‘not him’.  Fixed, forever, to the wrong spot.  Dying in the wrong way.  Not on a death-bed.  On a cross.  Not in serene and gentle love.  In love that is more real than anyone ever knew.  More real than he ever knew.  On Golgotha.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

12.    Jesus dies on the cross.

Without an apocalypse, without an intervention from God, without descending from the cross, without assistance from anyone…. He dies in a cry.... Lamma?  Why?  Why has everyone – why has God - deserted Love?

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

13.    Jesus is taken down from the cross.

He is taken from the cross, but the cross can never be taken away from Him.  Dead, He can express no responsiveness to those who want to show Him their love... Dead, with a lot of unfinished business in the world he has left.... Dead, but given… ours to love in return.

    He loved me, he delivered himself for me.

14.    Jesus is placed in the tomb.

Without ever entering this world of self-expression again....it is final…. It is all over… They closed the tomb, and all withdrew.

    A man enters his own truth.
    A man enters his reality.
    Alone.
    Naked.
    Dead.
    Having given up his truth: it is not his.
    Having given up his reality: it is not his.
    Not alone: in TRUTH.
    Not naked: in REALITY.
    ALIVE

THE EVERLASTING MERCY (John Masefield)

    O red wet swathe of earth laid bare
    O truth, O strength, O gleaming share.
    O patient eyes that watch the goal,
    O ploughman of the sinner’s soul.
    O Jesus drive the coulter deep
    To plough my living man from sleep.

    O Christ who holds the open gate,
    O Christ who drives the furrow straight
    O Christ the plough, O Christ the laughter
    Of holy white birds flying after!
    Lo, all my heart’s field red and torn,
    And thou wilt bring the young green corn
    The young green corn divinely springing,
    The young green corn forever singing.

    And when the field is fresh and fair,
    Thy blessed feet will glitter there;
    And we will walk the weeded field
    And tell the golden harvest’s yield.
    The corn that makes the holy bread,
    By which the soul of man is fed;
    The holy bread, the food unpriced,
    Thy everlasting mercy, Christ

For other stations of the cross meditations click HERE.