As I reflect on what filled my heart and mind as I pondered the Stations of the Cross, I’m forced to consider: for me, this wasn’t simply an historical journey remembering the steps of Jesus; this was a personal pilgrimage following the footsteps of my own life.
From the outset, when considering the Stations of the Cross, it occurred to me that Jesus’ temptation to bypass the Cross, with which He wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane, wasn’t His first encounter with the enemy of His soul and ours.
What if Jesus had yielded to Satan’s temptations in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry? What if when Jesus, the embodiment of perfect man and perfect God, encountered Satan, He’d failed and yielded to the weakness of His humanity, forsaking His divinity? Then, of course, the Cross wouldn’t have been necessary. God’s plan would have failed. Satan would have been the victor. But what, then, would have become of me…and you?
It didn’t take long for the tears to begin as I considered the faithfulness and strength of Jesus in the face of insurmountable odds and His determination not to fail His mission of dying on the Cross.
Why? Why was His death on the Cross so vitally important? Had He not persevered, there would be no hope of forgiveness or eternal life for me…or you.
So as I pondered the pictures and verses of each station, I couldn’t escape the reality that what Jesus experienced through His temptation; His betrayal; His condemnation; His mocking; the bearing of His Cross, leading to His literal falling under the weight of the world’s sin; His willingness to allow assistance from Simon; being stripped; nailed to the Cross; His life slowly draining from His body; and finally His body being placed in a borrowed tomb–none of that was because of what He did. Jesus didn’t deserve any of that.
As my mind and heart grieved His horrible, unimaginable torture, my spirit kept pleading—“Why? Why? Why? You didn’t deserve to be treated like that? Why would You allow it? How could You possibly have endured it?”
“It was for you,” He said.
Again, my heart and mind were wrenched as I pleaded: “Why? Why? Why? I don’t deserve to be treated with such love and mercy! Why would You allow Yourself to be tortured for me? You know me better than I know myself. You know the countless times and ways I’ve failed You.”
“Love always finds a way,” He said. “I overcame sin and death, failure and shame, hopelessness and defeat when I walked out of My tomb, just as I said I would. My resurrection proves I’m exactly who I said I Am and that all things are possible to those who believe.”
“But how can I ever respond appropriately to such love? What can I ever do to express my gratitude for such a gift?”
“Follow Me with your whole heart. Trust Me to lead you in ways and to places you never dared dream possible. Love Me and others as I love You, and let all that I did while I was on earth be a constant reminder of My love for you. Walk in confidence knowing I am always with you.”
My heart can only sing: “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”
To experience this unforgettable journey, you can visit our Legacy Campus and Sloan Creek Campus from March 26-30 and during Easter services. You can also experience it online at Stations of the Cross.