As a follow on from our Nativity scene we had in the Church Garden to help people engage with the season we decided to put together something for Lent and Easter. The Way of The Cross is a short stations of the cross that can be found in the garden at St Leonard’s. Each of the crosses have been made especially for this purpose and the 7 seven stones found at the bottom of the first 7 stations have been decorated by members and friends of the congregation. Station 8 will develop as Lent progresses and a tomb and Easter Garden will be added. A guide to lead you round the stations has been produced and can be found in the leaflet box near the start, for those with technology there is a QR code on the front of the box to give a digital version of the leaflet. Enjoy!
Jesus took Peter, James and John to Gethsemane with him and asked them to keep watch while he prayed. Jesus was deeply distressed and sorrowful and, although he asked his Father for this cup to be taken away from him, he still prayed ‘not my will but your will be done’. After this he returned to where his disciples were waiting and spoke to them:
The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go. Here comes my betrayer. Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Mark 14:41b-46
Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, but how often do we betray him for less, with a thought, a word, or an action? Do you sometimes profess your faith as a follower of Jesus, and yet find yourself going in a different direction, drifting away from his teaching? Renew your commitment now, to follow his way of love, even when it is difficult. Lord, have mercy.
After being questioned and accused by the religious leaders, Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor, where he made no reply to the charges made against him.
In accordance with the governor’s custom to release a prisoner, a well-known criminal called Barabbas was brought out and the crowd were asked who they wanted to be released, Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd called for Barabbas.
“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!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered “his blood is on us and our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Matthew 27:22-26 Despite his powerful position, Pilate is very afraid. He often had to pronounce judgements, but here he has made a poor and unjust decision. He knows it and his hand washing is a sign of his weakness.
Do you, sometimes, go with the crowd and make poor and unjust judgements about others?
Ask Jesus to guide all your decisions and to help you not to judge others. Lord have mercy.
Now, having already been badly beaten, the soldiers continue Jesus’ painful humiliation
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown, they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. Matthew 27:27-30
Mockery can be cruel and violent, whether expressed only in words or, as with the soldiers, in their actions. Have you ever mocked or ridiculed someone, either to their face or to someone else? Have you ever caused someone to feel humiliated through your words or deeds? Pray now for that person and say sorry for the hurt that you may have caused them.
Lord have mercy.
Our familiarity with the story of Jesus can make us forget the degree of brutality which he had to endure.
So far, he had been betrayed, brutally beaten and flogged. Now, badly injured and unjustly condemned, he was forced to carry the weight of the cross on his shoulders and begin his journey to Golgotha to the hill Where he would be crucified.
After they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:20
The soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the Place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). John 19:16b-17
We have all suffered at certain times in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. We have all experienced pain. Perhaps you do now as you stand here and reflect? Jesus knows how it feels to suffer, to know pain and rejection and he understands how it feels for you too. Talk to him of your pain and suffering, and know that he is listening.
Lord have mercy.
By now Jesus is exhausted and struggling to carry the weight of his cross. The soldiers, perhaps out of a degree of compassion, but more likely just wanting to get this all over with and get rid of this troublesome rabble, forced a bystander out of the crowd to help Jesus.
As the soldiers led Jesus away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26
Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Matthew 27:32
How often are we bystanders to the hardship and anguish going on it the world? Or, closer to home, do we hold ourselves at a distance from the homeless or those with addictions, or fear getting involved when we hear of people living in violent situations, for example? It is, of course, appropriate to protect ourselves, but do you sometimes wait until you are forced to before you offer help? Take a moment to ask Jesus for the courage to stand up and help those who are in need of it.
Lord have mercy.
The women were kind, and they felt sorry for Jesus. But, in spite of their sincerity, they miss the point. Jesus stops for a moment to speak to them.
A large number of people followed, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned to them and said ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and your children’.
It is normal to grieve when we lose someone we love, and Jesus understands that pain. But He also points us to the bigger picture, that death is not the end. Talk to Jesus about those you grieve for. Tell him how you feel, as he understands. But in your grief and sorrow try, also, to trust in God’s promise that death is not the end as he offers us the gift of eternal life.
Lord have mercy.
Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified with two criminals either side of him, while the soldiers cast lots for their clothes and possessions.
Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. When the soldiers came to the place called
“The Skull”, they nailed Jesus to a cross.
They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people!
They don’t know what they’re doing”. Luke 23:32-35
Crucifixion was a violent and brutal punishment but for the Roman soldiers it was just another day another duty to be fulfilled. To hammer nails into the flesh of another human being does not bear thinking about for us today. And yet we may be guilty of acts of violence without even raising our hands. Words are so powerful; they can tear through flesh like the nails piercing Jesus’ hands and feet. Do your words build people up or knock them down?
Pray now, and ask Jesus to help you love others as he loves you.
Lord have mercy.
Here we meet Jesus in his last moments. The end draws close.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. Matthew 27:45-50
Be still and spend a few moments in quiet prayer and reflection before the large cross and remember that Jesus died for you.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.