Stations of the Cross
In case you are not able to walk physically through Grace's Stations of the Cross, here they are! These reflections, except for #10, were written by Grace UMC members. #8 was submitted as a printed page, so I wasn't able to post it here.
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ [[ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]]
AS JESUS PRAYS ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, HE IS TEACHING US WHAT T0 DO IN TIMES OF CRISIS AND DEEP DISTRESS
HE SPENT TIME ALONE, PRAYING TO HIS FATHER
How have you experienced God’s presence in your time alone with your Heavenly Father?
HE KNEW HE COULD ASK HIS FATHER ANYTHING. Do you have that kind of intimacy with God?
WHEN HE PRAYED, HE ENDED HIS PRAYER WITH “NOT MY WILL BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE”
Recall a time when you have trusted God enough to seek His will instead of the outcome you desired.
GOD PROVIDED THE STRENGTH HE NEEDED TO FACE HIS ORDEAL.
Think of times when God through the Holy Spirit has given you strength and courage in the midst of your distress and despair.
We are so humbled and in awe that you gave your only Son ,Jesus to pay for our sins and give us eternal life.
We pray that you would give us a desire to spend more time with you. Teach us how to pray in your will, trusting you to provide the strength we need to face our difficulties. We ask these things in the name of Jesus, our savior and redeemer. - Kay Brewer
Matthew 26: 47 - 56
47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came. With him was a large crowd carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss.” 49 Just then he came to Jesus and said, “Hello, Rabbi.” Then he kissed him.
50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
51 One of those with Jesus reached for his sword. Striking the high priest’s slave, he cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I’m not able to ask my Father and he will send to me more than twelve battle groups of angels right away? 54 But if I did that, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” 55 Then Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like a thief? Day after day, I sat in the temple teaching, but you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that what the prophets said in the scriptures might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Jesus and ran away.
After reading the Scripture passage as written, read it aloud again, slowly, placing yourself in the role of the different people in the narrative. Read the verses, taking on the first person for Jesus, Judas, and the disciple with the sword. For example, “While I was still talking, Judas, one of the twelve. . . .”. Pause to reflect on the story from each perspective.
Thank God for the insights you receive and the gift of the Son of God. Rejoice in the promise of God’s love for all creation.
Create a word collage from the verses, allowing the holy words to flow into you and through you, as you permit the Holy Spirit to make the lesson a part of your Holy Week experience.
BUT JESUS REMAINED SILENT AND GAVE NO ANSWER. AGAIN THE HIGH PRIEST ASKED HIM “ARE YOU THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE BLESSED ONE?” “I AM,” SAID JESUS. “AND YOU WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MIGHTY ONE AND COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” THE HIGH PRIEST TORE HIS CLOTHES. “WHY DO WE NEED ANY MORE WITNESSES?’ HE ASKED. “YOU HAVE HEARD THE BLASPHEMY. WHAT DO YOU THINK?” THEY ALL CONDEMNED HIM AS WORTHY OF DEATH.
Initially, Jesus doesn’t answer the question about who he is. Did he think that his actions would have already indicated who he was? What about our actions? Do they indicate that we are, in fact, Christians?
Once Jesus responds that he is indeed the Christ, the high priest turns to the people and asks, “What do you think?” Today, we can ask ourselves what we think. Have we thought and questioned and learned? What experiences have you had that make you believe Jesus is the Son of God?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) Thanks be to God. - Carolyn Nicholson
Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘king of the Jews’?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”
“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
Then Pilate said,” So are you a king or not?”
Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”
Jesus is being accused of a worldly title “King of the Jews”. He could respond in a worldly way by showing the hypocrisy of his accusers, or getting defensive with facts to refute the charges, or simply ignoring the question. However, Jesus does none of these worldly things. He answers the accusations by giving his heavenly title “king of truth”.
What are some of the titles that the world puts on us? Do we fight back to these titles by being defensive, or attacking our accusers, or simply ignoring the title?
Or do we use Jesus’ example of using the title God gives us to free us from our worldly accusers? Jesus knew exactly the title God had given him. Do we know and take ownership of the title God has given us?
Take some time to pray and be with God. Discover or confirm the title God has given to you.
Take a name tag and write your heavenly title on it.
When the world confines and burdens you with its worldly titles, look at your name tag and remember the heavenly title that God has given you that sets you free from the world. - Bryan Kahl
Mark 15: 6-15
“Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. ‘Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. ‘What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked them. ‘Crucify him!’ they shouted. ‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’ Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
You are Pilate. Do you do what you know is right, even with an angry mob screaming at you to do something else? Or do you take the safe option and appease the crowd? How does God want you to respond when in a position of power?
You are in the crowd. Do you go against the angry mob around you, including your friends? Do you join the crowd? Do you stay silent? How do you follow God’s will when it feels contrary to the pressures around you?
Crowd/mob behavior is a powerful thing. It is easy to get caught up in a crowd and see individuals saying and doing things that would normally go against their character.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21)
May we recognize God’s presence and guidance amid the crowds in our life. Amen. - David Rylander
“Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the Man!’”
Pilate likely was awed by this Man—the incarnate Word of God—who silently had endured the brutal scourging the guards had inflicted on Him. Jesus, in His crown of thorns, likely was bruised and bloodied. Maybe Pilate was trying to evoke sympathy from the crowd. If we read this more personally, we are commanded to “Behold”—to carefully examine and truly see this Man.
Is He our personal Savior? Have we accepted His rule over our life as our Lord and Master?
Behold! Look closely and see this God/Man who died for you and me.
As a Roman governor, Pilate likely did not know the significance of his words, “Behold the Man!”—But these words must have burned Jewish leaders’ consciences to the core! Centuries earlier, the prophet Zechariah had used that same phrase to identify the coming Jewish Messiah, the King of Israel and Savior of the world: “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying Behold the Man whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and His shall build the temple of the LORD.”
Are we His? Are we building the temple of the Lord?
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’
I know that forgiveness is supposed to keep us (or make us) into the people we should be. Why is it so hard to do this very healthy, anxiety-calming act. I’m confessing that there are things that individuals do that I cannot forgive. So how do I make sense of forgiveness? On the cross, Jesus was forgiving two men who many would say were unforgivable. However, Jesus was completing an act which would take us to the ultimate example of a world-wide, every-person solution. Forgiveness can heal us, can show us how we must continue to do the difficult work to change people, institutions, the world to be the best that we can be.
How does darkness in our lives lead to light? An open heart, thoughtful prayer, corporate prayer, tangible work will lead us to possible solutions. Our immediate anger when we seemingly can’t forgive the action, can lead us to redemption if we follow Jesus’s example. He forgave criminals on the cross as he said “they know not what they do.” That could be the key. The hatred, the hurt, the horrible becomes the salvation that Jesus offered to us because he knew the ultimate goal, our access to God was His goal. He gave us hope that even though we make big mistakes and little ones, He forgives. He gives us the ultimate hope for the future – He forgives. He welcomes us to the unburdening of our hearts when we are ashamed. We love Him for His example of forgiveness as he was dying a horrible death. He knew the ultimate goal. We know the ultimate goal. We’ll keep trying to do better because we live with the knowledge that He will forgive us if we ask.
Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies has a passage that makes sense when thinking about the beauty of forgiveness for me. “I guess it’s like discovering you’re on the shelf, dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much. But Jesus walks in and tells the pawnbroker, I’ll take her place on the shelf. Let her go outside again.” (p. 43) We are sitting on a shelf, but we know that with Jesus’s help, we, too, can go outside the pawnshop and keep trying to be better people, doing all we can to make this world a better place. We can’t do it on our own, but we hold dear the forgiveness that Jesus offers us when we fall short, if we ask Him for it. - Jane White
27And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’
31For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
God isn’t done yet. Life comes at us. Bad things happen with the good. Life isn’t free of temptation and hardship. In our joy, there is still more suffering to come. Our sin is so entrenched in our way of life we have glossed it over. When it finally shows its true nature, where will we hide? Under the mountains? Or will we expose it and ourselves in the light of the morning?
We are guilty of sin and that guilt has been borne by Christ. By the innocent. By God. Because of this we seek to be solaced…consoled…forgiven.
Yet while Jesus was on His way to Calvary after being humiliated and tortured, He still finds a moment to let the people know that THIS IS HIS PURPOSE. That God doesn’t want to stay separated forever. But hard times are coming. In the end we need to take our place in the Father’s story just as Christ did. Is this the end? No…praise be to God! There is more, so much more to come!
Beyond what we see in Creation, aside from the people in our lives…when was the last time it was just you and God? Imagine God in front of you, by your side and behind You…what’s holding you back from finding your place in God’s story?
When was the last time you just stopped and shared just a moment of your time, your love…His love…to someone?
“How can you share this For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5
God, Help me to grasp the mystery of your grace, to see in the death of Jesus that gives me life. That moments with You are to be shared.
May our weeping over the suffering of Jesus, and our sorrow over our sin, turn to joy when I recognize the majesty of your mercy. May I find time to be still, time with You. I am Yours…and You are mine. I can’t do this alone. Amen.
- Allen Gardner
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing.
One of the final acts of Jesus’ earthly life was to offer forgiveness to those who mocked and tortured him. What does it say about the heart of God that Jesus would expend his fleeting energy in this way?
How have you experienced God’s forgiveness? How do you respond to such love?
What barriers exist which hinder your ability to accept forgiveness? How easily do you offer forgiveness to others?
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8).
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us remission of our sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit. Amen. - Pastor Frank
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?” We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
One mocked Jesus
The one was saved, not because of what either man did or did not do, but because the one man believed that Jesus could save him. It is never too late to turn to God. Jesus Christ saves us; we need only believe. Jesus is forgiving and merciful to all who believe and repent.
Remember. Repent. Believe.
Today, He forgives, saves, and is always with you.
Will you believe?
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” (Hebrews 6:19)
"Standing near the cross where Jesus' mother, and his mother sister Mary (the wife of Clopas) and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there with the disciple he loved, he said to her, "Dear woman here is your son." And he said to his disciple, "Here is your mother." And from then on this disciple took her into his home."
As we stand at the foot of the cross today we find our true and faithful family. Even at the moment of his death, Jesus' heart is open to those that are suffering and he recognizes the grieving pain & heartache of Mary and John. When he gave them the gift of peace he told them it was ok to move forward with their lives. He knew where he was going and it was ok to grieve and to lean on each other and build a new "family" together. Most of us have had that heartfelt goodbye with a loved one and we know the pain of being left behind. But we can rise from it. How can we be like Jesus in that moment, especially in death when we feel so alone & empty? This is the time to embrace one another as we've gone through one of the hardest years of all of our lives. What have you done to build a new family? What walls have you taken down to let others in or are you finding yourself building new ones?
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14: 27)
Heavenly father, Feel our pain for Mary and John, feel our pain for Jesus saying goodbye to those he loved. Let us grieve & heal together and let us open our hearts & doors to one another.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
Luke 23:46 Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last.
Jesus acknowledges He has done all he can do. How do you feel when you know that you have done all you can do to accomplish a goal? Knowing that all was now finished, is there a sense of relief? Are you tired and thirsty when you have been working hard? Jesus says, “I thirst.” And with that last sip he announces His work is done. Do you think He felt a sense of accomplishment? Do you give your all for God? The ultimate finished work is in God’s hands, just where Jesus put it. Have you done all you can do to advance God' kingdom?
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Both Joseph and Nicodemus were respected men in the community but followed Christ in secret.
How many times have we kept quiet or stayed in the background out of fear?
Knowing what happens after Jesus is buried, we have the hope of living with Christ after our death. Jesus previously asked Nicodemus, if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
How can we live our lives every day to ensure that we will be with Christ in heaven?
The burial happened late in the afternoon on the day of preparation before the Sabbath. Jewish customs didn’t allow work on the Sabbath. Even though it was late in the day, Joseph and Nicodemus still did the task of burying Jesus.
Are there times in your day when you feel hurried and rushed?
How can we balance our daily work/life commitments with our spiritual commitments?