We tend to skip quickly over this part of the story, because we know the end of the story. And that end is beautiful. We rush to see the empty tomb, and to revel in Easter.
That is wonderful. But, we’re not there yet. We need today. We need to take this walk with Christ. We need to feel the walk in our life, in the world today, to Calvary.
Stand with Jesus as he’s ridiculed and mocked (Luke 23:11). Learn to not lash out in anger, but persevere in quiet determination.
Mingle with the crowd as they cry for the murderer Barabbas (Luke 23:22-25). How does our society favor violence and the implements of death over the serene presence of Christ?
Watch, and feel, as the scourge tears into his back (Matthew 27:26). In what ways does our society lash out at the poor, the marginalized and those who speak the truth?
Feel the crown of thorns pressed into his flesh (Matthew 27:29-31). How do our power structures mock the redeeming power of Christ?
Begin the long walk to Golgotha. See the crowd’s apathy toward tyranny and injustice, their indifference to Christ passing by. How do we reflect that crowd today?
Stand atop Calvary. Feel the hammer strikes. Hear the cries of pain and anguish. Smell the blood. Then listen again: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Where do we need to sow forgiveness?
Sit with the soldiers, their hands still bloody. In what ways do we bloody our hands? How do we nail Christ back to the cross, in the bodies of his downtrodden children, with our sins, our greed and our hard-hearted turning from the Way?
Take the place of the penitent sinner, and hear Christ’s consoling promise: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Know, even in our darkest hour, redemption is at hand.
Now, stand with Mary. Wet your hands with her tears as she watches life slip from the racked body of her child. How many mothers today will bear witness to the violent deaths of their children, as an indifferent world passes by?
Gather to the cross as Jesus, ever in control, speaks and breathes his last: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
We know the end of this story. We know we are redeemed. We are saved.
But, we are not done with our work.
Looking ahead to the cross, knowing the pain of death before him, Christ told us what we must do next: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
To follow Christ means continually going back to the beginning of the Via Dolorosa — The Way of Sorrow — where we must take up the weight of our cross, and begin anew our walk with Christ.
At the end of that walk is glory. But, we can’t skip the walk.