Stations of the Cross: Day 1
On this Monday, we begin a five-day devotional reading through the Gospels' accounts of the night leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and the circumstances of his death. The good news of Jesus was summarized by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians:
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3–4 ESV)
We so regularly recount the "Christ died for our sins." This week, we meditate on the nature of Christ and of his death. Our hope is that in pausing to walk through these chapters of the Gospels, you will grow in gratitude for the love and the grace of God in the death of Christ.
So, if possible, get someplace you won't be interrupted. Read the passages. Pause to reflect.
Read Matthew 26:36-68.
As you do, pause to reflect at each of the following "stations."
- Jesus prays in Gethsemane.
- Judas betrays Jesus.
- The Sanhedrin (the council including the High Priest) condemn Jesus to death.
In agony. To the point he sweats blood. More than that, he asks his closest friends for help-- to sit and watch with him. Instead, they fall asleep. Then there's the words I can't shake:
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)
"If it be possible?" He didn't know. I remember the humanness of Jesus. In his human nature he had to hear from the Father through the Spirit. Through prayerful seeking. "If it be possible..." If there is another way to accomplish your will that isn't what I know it to be. In Luke's gospel, Jesus prays, "If you are willing, remove this cup from me" (Luke 22:42)
Jesus is betrayed.
Another unshakable idea. Jesus has a friend who literally sells him out. Betrayed. Jesus declares it's time for him to be "betrayed into the hands of sinners." The word literally means "handed over." To take something and give it away. Judas takes what is infinitely worthy, and hands it over for a small amount of silver.
Betrayed. And with a kiss. This is not a stranger handing him over. It is a friend...from his inner circle...whom Jesus had loved and taught and invested in.
Jesus is condemned by the Jewish high council.
Failed by his friends in the garden.
Betrayed-- handed over by Judas.
Rejected by his own people's religious leaders.
Their long-promised and longed-for King. Rejected. Spit upon. And condemned as a blasphemer instead of the Son of God that he was.
Pause today. Let Jesus' sacrifice sink in. He knows. He knows what disappointment feels like. He knows what it feels like to be rejected. To be let down. To be unappreciated. To be misunderstood. To do the right thing and yet be rejected. To have love spurned.
In fact. He knew. Before it all happened, he knew it was all coming. And he chose it all anyway.