This is a version of the spiritual exercise of following along with Jesus on the Way to his crucifixion. In this practice we honor his ministry, his sacrifice, and our life in Christ.
During the middle ages faithful Christians made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, so that they might literally follow the paths that Jesus walked upon. Standing in the city of Jerusalem, feeling its earth under their feet gave them a sense of being closer to the Lord; it was almost magical, the way in which every pillar and post seemed to be infused with Christ’s holy presence.
Those who could not make the journey to the Mideast were able to “follow along at home” by making their way through hedgerow labyrinths or tracing the paths of those laid out on the stone floors of the great cathedrals. Prayer and works were not enough — they wanted to walk with Jesus in a tangible way.
The "Way of the Cross" has traditionally been used by Christians as a way of "walking with Jesus" through the last hours of his earthly ministry. This spiritual exercise provides an opportunity for prayer and reflection on an especially sacred time in the Lord’s life.
These last hours vividly remind us of Jesus’ incarnation: the fact that he lived — and died — as we do. In times of trouble, heartbreak, or joy — the Lord our Christ understands us, for he walked with us: “fully God and fully human.”
The following "steps along Jesus’ way" are based on the Gospel of Mark, chapters 14 and 15 (the translation is mine). Each one is numbered, briefly summarized, and the associated Scripture passage is given. A short prayer is offered at the conclusion of each each step.
This path leads up to a time of waiting; standing in holy expectation, in faith that there is More to Come. May the following of this holy path bless and inspire your spirit.
|#||Steps on the Way||Gospel Text||Prayer|
|1.||Jesus stays at Simon's house.||Two days before Passover, Jesus was in Bethany, staying at the house of Simon the leper.||Jesus, friend and companion, my house is your house. Amen.|
|2.||The anointing.||While they were eating a woman came to the house with an alabaster jar filled with fragrant oil. She opened the jar and poured the oil over Jesus’ head.
Some of the people at the table were outraged and started complaining loudly, "Why did she waste that expensive oil? It could have been sold for several thousand dollars, and the money given to the poor."
And they berated her for what she had done.
But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Why are you laying a guilt trip on her? She has done a beautiful thing for me.
The poor will always be here; you can do something for them at any time; but you will not always have me. She has acted faithfully; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial."
|Compassionate one, keep my heart free from harsh judgments, open my eyes that I may see how others serve you. Amen.|
|3.||The Passover meal is prepared.||Two disciples went into the city, and prepared the Passover meal in the upper room that had been set aside for them.
That evening, Jesus arrived with the rest of the disciples.
|Lord Christ, may all that I do be worthy of being set before you. Amen.|
|4.||The bread and wine.||As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
|Gracious Redeemer, no words of gratitude can be sufficient. May my life be a song of unending thanks and praise to You. Amen.|
|5.||Praying at Gethsemane.||They went to a place called Gethsemane; and Jesus told the disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
He took Peter and James and John with him, and began to be distressed and nervous. He said, “I am scared to death; stay here and keep watch."
Going a little further ahead, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, things could be different. He said, "Loving Father, for you all things are possible; please don’t make me go through this. And yet... Holy One, Your will be done.”
Jesus returned and found them sleeping; he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay awake for just one hour? Keep awake and pray that you don’t have to endure the time of trial. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
He went away again and prayed the same prayer. When he returned he found them asleep again, for they were very drowsy — and they didn’t know what to say to him.
He came back a third time and said, “Are you still sleeping and relaxing? That’s enough of this! The time has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
|Jesus, my savior, many times have I failed to stay and pray in times of need. Awaken my soul, so I will be ready when you call upon me. Amen.|
|6.||Jesus is betrayed.||Judas arrived with a gang dispatched by the religious authorities. All were armed with swords and clubs.
All of the disciples deserted Jesus and ran away.
They took Jesus to the high priest’s house, where all of the religious authorities were gathered. As soon as it was morning, the chief priests consulted with the whole council: the elders and church law specialists. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
|Holy One, I have ignored your teachings and betrayed your commandments to be merciful and loving. Forgive me for the things I have done, and the things I have left undone. Amen.|
|7.||Jesus before Pilate:
The release of Barabbas;
Jesus handed over for execution.
|Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He replied, “So you say.” And the chief priests began to accuse him of all sorts of things. Pilate asked him, “Why don’t you answer their charges? Don’t you realize how serious this is?” But Jesus said nothing more, which astonished him.
Traditionally, Pilate released a prisoner during the Passover celebration as a symbol of the Empire’s mercy — it could be anyone the people asked for. (During this time there was a man named Barabbas who was imprisoned with others who had committed murder during the insurrection against Rome.) So the crowd assembled and requested that Pilate do this again. He asked, “Shall I release the King of the Jews?” He was well-aware that the priests had handed Jesus over to him out of jealousy.
But the priests incited the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate said, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But the mob kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
So Pilate, after flogging Jesus, handed him over to the soldiers to execute.
|Innocent one, give me the wisdom to resist “going along with the crowd,” and the courage to speak out against injustice. Amen.|
|8.||Jesus is scorned and abused.||The soldiers led Jesus into the courtyard of the governor's headquarters; and they called together the whole platoon.
They threw a purple cloak over Jesus’ shoulders and twisted sharp branches into a crown which they placed upon his head. Then they started saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They hit him on the head with a staff, spat on him, and knelt down before him as they would do for the Emperor.
After mocking him, they stripped Jesus of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to be crucified.
|King of Kings, I have scorned, scoffed at, and demeaned those with whom I disagree. I have sinned against them in thought, word and deed. Forgive the harm I have done, and give me patient understanding. Amen.|
|9.||Simon of Cyrene carries the cross.||They forced a traveler who was coming in from the country to carry Jesus’ cross. (This was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.)||Precious Lord, strengthen me that I may help to lighten the burdens of others. Amen.|
|10.||Jesus is crucified.||They crucified him at nine a.m. The charge against him read: “The King of the Jews.”
He was crucified along with two rebel leaders, one on his right and one on his left.
Passersby scolded him, shaking their heads and saying, “You brought this on yourself, with that ‘destroy the temple and I will rebuild it in three days’ business. Now show us what you can do: come down from the cross!”
The religious authorities were also sneering at him amongst themselves. “What rubbish! The ‘savior,’ indeed! He rescued others, but can’t save himself. Let’s see this Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross — then we’ll become believers.”
Those who were crucified with him said the same sorts of things.
|Crucified Savior, forgive me for my lack of compassion toward those who suffer. Amen.|
|11.||Jesus dies on the cross.||At three o'clock Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The he gave a loud shout and died.||<silence>|
|12.||The witnesses.||The curtain in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the worshippers was torn completely in two, from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood opposite him saw how Jesus died, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"
There were women watching from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. They were Jesus’ disciples and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had traveled with him to Jerusalem.
|<Reflect: How does my life give witness to the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ, God’s son?>|