October 5, 2014
The First and Second Stations of the Cross
One of the many reasons, if not the main reason, that people come to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is to follow the Stations of the Cross. The Stations are particular places in Jerusalem where Jesus experienced his last hours. The Stations are also known as the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrows. By following the stations in order and through reflection and prayer at each site, believers get a deeper understanding of what Christ went through during the day of his crucifixion.
Stations 10-14 all take place within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher itself. These stations mark the location of the most important events in Christianity, Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection. This is why the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is such a popular place for spiritual pilgrims and tourists alike to offer their prayers. Many believers feel that praying there has special significance, especially if they have committed grave sins, or wish to ask Christ to redeem the grave sins of another in an Act of Reparation.
Over the next few months, Holy Land Prayer is going to describe the stations to better aid your understanding of what Christ went through. This month we’ll be talking about the first two stations.
The First Station of the Cross: Jesus is Condemned to Death
The journey begins in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Lion’s Gate. A few yards ahead of this gate is the Umariya Elementary School to your left. On the school is an iron medallion marking the first station and a sign labeling the spot where Jesus was condemned to death.
Take a moment to read Mark 15:1-15. In this passage, the Sanhedrin has captured Jesus and taken him before Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea at the time. Already he has been beaten, mocked, and given the crown of thorns. Pilate confronts Jesus and asks him if the charges against him are true. Jesus neither confirms nor denies the charges to Pilate in this version of the Gospel, only saying “You have said so” in verse two.
Pilate offers to release Barabbas, a murderer and an insurgent, in the place of Jesus, hoping to assuage the large crowd that had come to demand Christ’s crucifixion. The Bible even says that Pilate knew that the Sanhedrin wanted to condemn Jesus out of self-interest, and records his question in verse 14:
“Why? What crime has he committed?”, asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”(NIV Translation)
Jesus has submitted to the will of the Father. Reflect back to His experiences in the Garden of Gethsemane. Reflect on your own life when it seems that events have swept you up beyond your control and forced you to submit to a higher purpose. Reflect also that Jesus has begun to walk this path so that his blood and sacrifice can save all of us from our sins. Take a moment to pray with gratitude for this gift that He gave us, and ask for the courage to walk our own sorrowful roads with His strength.
The Second Station of the Cross: Jesus Takes Up the Cross
Further down the same road, you will find the Ecce Homo Convent, where the second station lies. It is near the Ecce Homo Arch, where Pontius Pilate declared “Here is the Man!” to the crowds that were persecuting Jesus. You can see the remains of the arch just past where the iron marker is located.
Turn now to John 19:13-17. Here we can see another side of Pilate’s position. He declares to the crowd that Jesus is the King of the Jews, but the crowd denies it and demands his crucifixion. Pilate submits to their demands, and a cross is prepared for his death. In verse 17 we read:
“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).” (NIV Translation)
The carrying of the cross is a symbol to this day of carrying a heavy burden. Jesus is carrying the weight of all of our sins up to the place where he will be crucified. This place is marked today at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This event is also the first of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, showing its importance.
We all have to bear our crosses through life. In fact, Jesus even demands it in the Book of Matthew 16:24-27:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”(NIV)
Take a moment to reflect on the burdens of your life. Do they compare to the burdens of Jesus? Reflect on His compassion and agree to bear your own burdens with His humility and strength. As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)
Perhaps one day you would travel to the physical Stations of the Cross yourself. Making a prayer through Holy Land Prayer is the next best thing, and a marvelous way to strengthen your faith and show your devotion to Jesus. Our team at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ready to receive your prayers and deliver them unto the Lord at the Church. Whatever you wish to ask, it shall be granted. Read Matthew 7:7-8, then visit our website today and offer your prayer in faith that it shall be granted in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!