Stations of the Cross
Not being Catholic, I do not often walk the Stations of the Cross…but every time I do so I find myself deeply moved…and in different ways each time.
Arriving at the Desert House of Prayer at dusk this evening, I walked the stations of the cross in the cooling desert heat. As I came upon several stations that portray Jesus carrying the cross and collapsing under the weight of the cross, I was struck by what—precisely—He was carrying. He was carrying the implement of His death. He was carrying that which would kill Him. The weight of that implement of death (following a severe loss of blood from the beating He endured) knocked Him to His knees over and over again.
Then it struck me. It wasn’t actually the cross that killed Him. He died before the experienced centurion figured that crucifixion would take His life.
The cross wasn’t actually the implement of His death. It was our sins that killed Him. As the prophet Isaiah foretold: “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities….” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Yes, Jesus carried the implement of His death to the place of crucifixion. He carried our sins.
Yes, the weight of that implement of death (our sins) knocked Him to His knees (in the Garden of Gethsemane He fell to His knees praying in anguish, with blood seeping from the pores in His skin).
As I walked the Stations of the Cross, looking at pictures of Jesus collapsing under the weight of the cross, the agony He endured took on added personal significance to me. It wasn’t the Roman guards who forced Him to carry the implement of His death. He took my sins upon Himself willingly.
It was my sins that killed Him (and your sins too), but He did it on purpose. He did it for a reason. He did it to save me (and to save you). He did it to adopt me into His own family (and to adopt you into His family).
As a wonderful hymn expresses it:
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure….
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished….
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom!