This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on 30 March 2018.
The way of the cross is one of hope and salvation. Many of us find using the Stations of the Cross as a way we can put ourselves among the crowds following Jesus along the Via Dolorosa, that rough and rugged path up to the hill of Golgotha, outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Today is a time when we can reflect about what Jesus carried with him as he made his way along that path. We know he carried his cross, probably not the whole cross as many artists show, but the cross beam that would be nailed to the main post. It would have been heavy and rough, they would certainly not have made it smooth. There would be jagged edges that dug into Jesus’ already broken flesh.
We are told the weight of the cross made Jesus stagger as he was already weak from the beating he had received at the hands of the Roman soldiers. The crowd that had welcomed him a few days earlier were jeering and possibly laughing. This man who had been welcomed as a King is now humbled before them, taking on the form of a slave dragging his cross, but that’s not all he is carrying. As he takes each painful step, he is carrying the suffering of the world along with him. The brokenness of relationships; the oppression of the weak and vulnerable; the suffering of the innocent and neglected.
He carries on along that lonely path, the crown of thorns digging into his head reminding him of the bullying of the Roman soldiers as they mocked him, of the abandonment by his disciples, even Peter who had promised to stay with him had denied him and left. He carried with him the knowledge that they wanted a different type of Messiah, even though they had witnessed many things in the years they had followed him, but they had still deserted him, he was still misunderstood. They just didn’t get it.
However, his kingdom is not of this world, he told Pilate quite plainly and now he carries the hopes of God. Hopes, that through him God’s son, the world would be forgiven and all our sorrows and failures would be nailed to the cross, not my will, but yours God.
He continues along that lonely path, the weight of the cross bearing down on him and a stranger is made to help him. Even with this help, he carries our disappointments, lost hope, shattered dreams. He understood our feelings of rejection, hopelessness and loneliness.
At the bottom of the cross, the soldiers play dice and gamble for the seamless garment taken from his tortured body and they in turn become part of God’s plan. The darkness is gathering, “the beckoning of a new dawn, a new heaven and a new earth” and Jesus asks, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they do”. Those words of forgiveness addressed to us all.
As he looked down from the cross, where were his disciples? Had they gathered near? What a disappointment they must have been to him? He had tried so hard to teach them and as he looks he sees his mother Mary, John, his beloved disciple and some of the other women. Had it all been in vain? Would they forget this broken body and the blood spilled for them? Would they remember the unconditional love that had brought him to the cross?
Love he told us to share, love for one another, our neighbours, friends, family, creation, but most of all for God. In him we live, breathe, and have our being.
Let us pray:
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ carried us to the cross and shed his blood for us and brought us into new community with you;
Help us to follow in his way, deny ourselves and take up the cross he gives us, that the world may learn his way of peace;
May his life and his purposes be alive in us this day and may we be alive in him;
And when our hearts are broken and when the burdens of this life feel too great to bear, take us to the cross, and enable us to see there the great weight that Jesus carried; for here we receive the affirmation of your love, the assurance of your promise and the strength to persevere.
For we ask it in his name.
Christine Hardy – Reader
@ St. Margaret’s Church, Holyrood and St. George’s Church, Simister.