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The Stations of the Cross is a powerful journey that will take you through the hours leading up to the Crucifixion and the hours after Jesus’ death. If this is your first time going through this journey, we recommend you read or listen to the introduction first.
Please feel free to take this journey in-person by going to one of our local campus locations. You can also experience this online by scrolling through and clicking on each station and doing your reflection. Please don’t rush, but take your time. Each station is meant to help you on the journey with Scripture, reflections, and a closing prayer. Travel well, my friends!
The Stations of the Cross have been identified with religious celebrations leading up to Easter for hundreds of years.
The way of Christ’s suffering, from the Garden of Gethsemane to the rocky hill of Golgotha, was carefully marked out by Christ’s followers from the earliest days of Christianity. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world journeyed to visit the land of Jesus.
As Christianity spread, so did the desire to see Jerusalem first-hand. But the logistics to travel there became more than most could undertake. And so, a need to provide replicas of holy places for those hindered from travel began to emerge.
In the fifth century, a bishop constructed a few connected chapels in San Stefano, Italy to represent the holiest places associated with Christ. These chapels attracted thousands of visitors and served as the foundation for the modern Stations of the Cross. By the nineteenth century, this practice had become a staple in churches throughout Europe and North America.
While many of you may have grown up with this devotional practice, I wasn’t exposed to it until mid-life. It has proven to be a rich way for me to connect with Christ and with His story. It has shown me a deeper meaning of sacrifice and love. As a means of God’s grace to me, it has taken me beyond the cross and into an empty tomb. It continues to grow my hope, joy, and knowledge of just how much He loves all of us.
The content of this experience is based on artwork by Scott Erickson and excerpts from The Via Crucis by Shawn Small, as well as writings from myself and Greg Holmes, the Communications Pastor at Chase Oaks Church.
I am thrilled to share this experience with you. My hope and prayer for everyone who engages on this path is that you find yourself in this story. I pray you sense the depth of His love for you as you hear His invitation to an even more intimate relationship with Him. Finally, I pray that you celebrate in our hope of eternal life with Him forever.
Please don’t rush. Take the time you need to savor each station. Whether you read each segment for yourself, or listen as it is read, make space to engage with the artwork and presence of God with you in the present moment. The written content for each station contains Scripture, reflections, and a closing prayer to help guide your journey. Travel well, my friends!
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Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And he began to feel sadness and anguish. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with me.” And going on a little farther he fell on his face and prayed. “My Father,” he said, “If it is possible let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.”
Matthew 26:36-39 (NJB)
The Passover supper had revealed infinitely more than His few followers understood. “Take and eat this bread, for this is my body, broken for you. Drink from this cup, for it is my blood, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus knew the seeds of Communion were planted in unknowing hearts. In a few days, clarity would illuminate their spirits with a glory hidden from the dawn of creation; but tonight, all seemed shadowed and frightening.
Seeking solace in His final few moments before the torrent of hate overtook Him, Jesus walked with His Eleven to Gethsemane. Oh, how He loved the peace and solitude of this place! But tonight was different. He did not come seeking peace or solitude. He arrived with an earnest request. Gathering His three closest companions, Jesus pleaded with them to pray as He went before the Father. As He moved a mere stone’s throw away, He cried out to the Father as terror and anguish overwhelmed Him.
In climactic agony, blood trickled from His brow in great drops. The will of this simple carpenter from Nazareth was sacrificed as He declared, “Not my will, but Thy will be done!” The fountain that would soon flood the streets of Jerusalem began to flow in this tiny garden known as Gethsemane.
God, I struggle with my Gethsemane moments.
Give me the strength to follow the leading of Christ and proclaim,“Not my will, but Thy will be done in my life.”
Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from then onwards he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
Matthew 26:14-16 (NJB)
Some would say Judas was the most promising of the Twelve. Unlike the rough-and-tumble Galilean fishermen, or the other disciples with shaded pasts, this man was properly educated and of the most excellent pedigree. In fact, he was the only Judean of the lot. How could he become the traitor? How does one turn against the very One he followed for three years? While we can make many suppositions, we will never know for sure.
What we do know is that he sought out the enemies of his Master just days before, to ask what price they were willing to pay for betrayal. And what was his fee? This man of great promise sold the life of his Rabbi for thirty pieces of silver.
When the schemer’s plan took place, it caught almost everyone off guard. In the middle of the night, in a secluded garden, the soldiers and guards arrived as an angry mob. The betrayer walked through the crowd.
Jesus turned to him and spoke, saying, “Good friend, do what you have come to do.” With that, Judas greeted his Rabbi with a kiss on the cheek. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?”
Jesus turned to him and spoke, saying, “Good friend, do what you have come to do.” With that, Judas greeted his Rabbi with a kiss on the cheek. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?” The words of accusation and those eyes of love pierced the man’s soul. Suddenly, the thirty pieces of silver Judas carried hidden in his tunic felt like a millstone hung around his neck. He had betrayed an innocent man. He had betrayed his friend.
As much as it pains me, Lord, I must admit that there are times I have betrayed You.Even though I have witnessed Your presence in my life, I have often sold my soul for the price of sin.
Father, redeem me from the poor choices I have made.
Please forgive any obstinate transgression in my heart.
Help me to turn away from the sin that so easily distracts me from Your truth and will for my life.
Remind me that I am never forsaken in Your presence.
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him,” Pilate said, but they shouted all the louder and insistently demanded, “Crucify him!” and their shouts prevailed. When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, Pilate decided to grant their demand. 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!”
This strange type of ordeal was the very reason behind Pilate’s hatred for being posted in this ghetto on the edge of the Roman Empire. He despised these people, and more so, their manipulative leaders. In Jesus, he had met an honorable and worthy Jew. And what was he about to do? He was going to give in to the demands of the angry crowd. He knew he was making the decision to execute an innocent and peaceful man.
But Pilate would try one last option. Certainly the common people, who had now gathered as a multitude in his courtyard, would let this Jesus go after a lesser punishment. But only one response poured forth from their throats: “CRUCIFY HIM!” “But he has committed no crime.” “CRUCIFY HIM!” Pilate, not wanting an embarrassing riot, would allow this travesty of judgment, but he had one more act of protest to carry out.
Quieting the agitated assembly, Pilate had a Jewish ceremonial washbasin brought before him. The people watched this pagan ruler ceremonially wash his hands like a pious Jew. They knew the significance of that action. Pilate was brashly declaring that he would not accept the blame of this man’s blood on his head. He would not take the responsibility of the cross Jesus would soon bear.
Father, let my love for earthly relationships never be greater than my love for You.
Heal me, Jesus, to love You above all others.
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “I am.” Jesus replied. “But I tell all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Matthew 26:57, 59-68
From the beginning, this was nothing but a fool’s theatre. The stage was set to give the appearance of legality during a morning of constant improprieties. The verdict had been cast days before. All the plans had neatly fallen into place until the actual trial. That is when things went wildly askew. Their most crucial witness, Judas Iscariot, had disappeared, so they had to quickly produce some witnesses. Many came forward. Every one of them disagreed with the testimonies that proceeded. Finally, when two came forward declaring that Jesus said He would tear down the Temple and rebuild it in three days, it was enough for Caiaphas. He once again questioned the man in chains.
Jesus had not been officially charged, so He allowed no answer to come forth. Caiaphas, in all his sanctimonious authority, charged the prisoner by sacred oath to answer this question: “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
For the first time in the whole ridiculous procession, He looked up and spoke with unhindered conviction: “I Am.”
This reply, stunning the Sanhedrin, left no more doubt; Jesus had openly declared His claim as the Christ. Caiaphas, in his rejection of the Messiah King, tore his clothes. Even though it was illegal, the punishment would begin now, as darkness entered the hearts of the men who stood around the Son of God. He was blindfolded, and they began to mercilessly beat Him…
This world is full of false accusers
and those who are indifferent to You.
Daily I battle with doubts, fears, and trials.
And if that was not enough, Lord, I do believe. Take away my unbelief.
After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So 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).
Matthew 27:31; John 19:16-17
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then, twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on Him and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him.
Christ was barely recognizable. His body was covered with caustic bruises and great clots of blood. As the robe was ripped off His body, the wounds that covered much of His frame would have likely reopened yet again. The sweat, blood, and waste of the condemned would cause the air to grow pungent.
Likely forced to His knees with a rough-hewn cross beam plunged onto His shoulders, He might have felt the splinters digging deep into His back. It would have been very possible that the beam was tied to His arms, placing all the weight on a battered, broken, and bloody frame. He would carry the instrument of His humiliation, torture, and death.
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died
my richest gain I count but lossand pour contempt on all my pride.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Love so amazing, so divine.
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
The One who now carried a hundred pounds of raw wood on His beaten and bloodied back also bore the sins of all mankind (past, present, and future) on His human frame. No other vessel but His could ever contain the blemish of Eden and the hope of Heaven. He understood this day from before eternity. He had come out of great love and embraced Gethsemane. By this point, Jesus was exhausted from the loss of sleep, blood, and water. His feet became unsteady as He walked along the stone-paved streets. Finally, trembling under the weight of the crossbeam, the Son of God succumbed to the weakness of His flesh and went down. Hands likely tied to the beam and unable to catch Himself, He fell. The pain must have been excruciating. Without a moment of relief, the guards grabbed the beam, lifting the bearer who was tied to it. Resolute, He kept walking toward Golgotha to finish the work the Father had set before Him.
I desire, Lord, to know You. I desire to serve mankind through serving You.
Help me to be humble enough to bear the weight of the cross upon my shoulders.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross behind Jesus.
Simon originated from a Jewish colony in the coastal city of Cyrene in North Africa. He was likely wealthy, cultured, intellectual, and known for piety. Traveling to the City of David, Jerusalem, on the holiest day of the year must have taken several days. It is likely on the Morning of Preparation, Simon started early toward Jerusalem so as to enjoy as much of the day’s festivities as possible and to take a sacrifice to the Temple. But the greeting he received at the city gates was anything but joyful. As he entered, he found himself in the midst of a crowd and three men bearing crossbeams on their backs. Here, on the holiest of days, people were screaming for the sacrifice of these men.
One of the three men was horribly beaten and weak. Yet He was somehow carrying the hundred-pound weight, step by step. Stumbling under the weight, with a beaten body, Jesus fell again near Simon. The guards must have cut the crossbeam loose from Christ, possibly in an attempt to speed things up. Simon, being close in proximity, was ordered to carry the crossbeam.
Lord, Simon met You face to face
and at that point, became a cross bearer.
Jesus, at times I find myself caught up in the tradition of worship.
But the only time worship results in transcendence is when I meet You face to face.
Help me to see You even now.
I pray for you to forever change me.
They (the soldiers) took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
John 19:23-24; Matthew 27:36
As Christ reached the site of execution, the guards removed the crossbeam from His neck. Standing motionless, the temporary reprieve of weight seemed wondrous. Activity continued around Him. The two men before Him screamed as they were nailed to the beams.
Jesus waited. Two soldiers approached Him and removed His belt and outer robe. Noticing the fine quality of His inner garment, they took precautions in stripping it off His body. To these hardened men, the prisoner’s bloodied, seamless tunic was much more valuable than His life. As they stripped it from His upper body, coagulated wounds that had drawn to the cloth were ripped open. Again, blood flowed.
But one final act of humiliation would occur. In customary cruelty, they stripped Him of His loincloth, leaving only shame and humiliation. In a few moments, the execution squad would roll dice for His garments directly below His torn body. The Christ would be displayed, utterly exposed before all who mocked, wept, and worshiped.
Many times, Lord, I attempt to cover my shame with something on the outside.
I wear masks that hide my true feelings.
I become what I believe others want me to be. Give me the understanding
that it is not what I wear on the outside, but who I am on the inside that brings worth to my life.
Give me a greater understanding of my purpose;
help me to be only what You have created me to be
and to realize that You never leave me nor forsake me.
It was the third hour when they crucified him. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”…The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
Mark 15:25; Matthew 27:38-40; Luke 23:34-35
He offered no resistance when they stretched His arm upon the beam. Lying face up, the first spike was carefully placed between the bones in His wrist. Without a moment of mercy, the soldiers grabbed His other arm and pulled, separating the shoulders with a wicked snap. Spikes pierced the One who cured lepers, wiped away blindness, and lovingly held children. Torn flesh and bursting arteries would invite unconsciousness as the Carpenter was fixed to the wood, but such a respite would be denied.
Placing His legs on the post, they purposefully aimed the nail through the bones in the center of His feet. This would securely hold the lower body in a sitting position. All three nails had been placed through major nerves in the limbs. The victim could not move without sending razor-sharp pain traveling through the length of the body.
Once Jesus was attached to the tree, the soldiers lifted Him into place. As the bottom of the cross slipped into place, He heard a taunting voice in the crowd. “You who will destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” His enemies snickered at the comment. Knowing His fate was sealed, they hushed, waiting to hear his reply. Instead, He whispered a statement that must have caused the soldiers to stare, His followers to weep, and His accusers to rile in fury. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Something other than nails was holding Him to this cross.
I have been crucified with Christ;
which means I no longer live,
yet, Christ lives within me!
The life I live in this body,
I live by faith and trust in the Son of God, Who loved me
and gave Himself for me.
Becoming obedient unto death;
even death on a cross.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30; Luke 23:46
Of all the cruel tortures man has devised, crucifixion is one of the worst. The Romans brought people to the brink of death and held them there as long as possible. The long, drawn-out process of scourging, beating, and languishing on the cross caused the victim to dance with death.
Few if any had ever taken the punishment that Jesus had. For three hours, He moved His bloodied back on the post of the cross—a victim of crucifixion was placed so that he was forced to move his torso up and down to keep air in his lungs. If he stopped, his lungs would fill, causing him to drown in his own blood.
A moment after the Son sipped of the wine-vinegar, He spoke, “Tetelestai!” This strange, single word meant, “It is finished,” or “Paid in full.” Then, bowing His head, He spoke His last words. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
Lord, to know that even death could not hold You causes my heart to swell with faith.In a world dark with death,
let Your light illuminate the darkness through my life.
At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Joseph took the body (and) wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite of the tomb. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
John 19:41-42; Matthew 27:59-61; Luke 23:55-56
Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy and reputable member of the Sanhedrin. Unlike the majority of his group, he must have sensed that the long-awaited Christ had indeed arrived and yet now was dead on the cross. It was a bold move to go to the home of Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. When Pilate granted his request, he quickly went back to Golgotha, removed the body from the cross, and in the company of women—perhaps with their help—he washed the gashed corpse and wrapped it in a layer of cloth.
In the rush to entomb the body before sunset, the women and men set their grieving aside until the task was complete. They prepared the body to the best of their abilities and carefully placed Him on the cold stone shelf in the fresh-hewn tomb. Because the Jews were concerned that the disciples would come and steal the body, a seal was placed on the tomb and guards set to keep watch throughout the following days.
With the Sabbath upon them, they left the tomb and the body in a secure place and observed their Sabbath as commanded by the Law. Their thoughts and emotions during that Sabbath were probably unlike any they had observed before. As they gathered the final spices and oils for burial, they must also have been preparing to see His body one last time to say their goodbyes.
There are times in my life, Lord,
when the apparent loss of control
over the circumstances of my life
traps me in fear and anxiety.
Help me to put the direction of my life into Your hands
and to not grasp for it myself.
Set me free from the tomb of my mind
and draw me into the freedom of Your guidance and peace.
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
After the Sabbath, very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and the other Mary went to look at the tomb and anoint Jesus’ body. They asked themselves, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. Mary Magdalene came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him!”
The angel said to the women, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen like he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell the disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”
Matthew 28: 1-7; Mark 16:1-7; John 20:1-2 (paraphrase)
The mission of Jesus was quite different than what most who knew Him believed it to be. So many that had followed Jesus during His ministry abandoned Him at the end once it was clear that He would not be leading a revolution against Rome or ushering in the type of kingdom they were expecting.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, even those who had been closest to Jesus were found fearful, dejected, and in mourning. Their leader had been killed. The mission had failed. They had thought He was the One.
After Jesus’ death, we see some of the disciples return to their previous careers as fishermen. We see women returning to the tomb to finish their burial preparations. They do so out of respect for the dead. No one expected Jesus to rise again. But the resurrection of Jesus points toward the success of Jesus’ mission, not its failure. Jesus did what He came to do.
The generation of Jesus’ day desired a life of freedom, blessing, safety, and comfort. We are not so different than them. But above all those desires are God’s desires to provide for us everlasting life, forgiveness of sins, and a forever relationship with Him.
God poured out and ultimately extinguished His wrath against human sin by inflicting that wrath upon Himself. Divine wrath was diverted through divine self-sacrifice. The resurrection of Jesus means that the penalty for sin was paid in full. Jesus took it all. Now it’s all over. A way has been made for us. Jesus’ death and resurrection has opened access to God. Jesus turned hopelessness into hope, defeat into victory, and death into life. And He did it for us.
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?