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Stations of the Cross: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

In our final station of the cross, we arrive at the tomb.

Our reading today is from John 19:38-42

John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus has declared, “It is finished” and we see the providence of God, even in His death.  When Rome classified someone as a criminal, that person was often buried in a forgotten tomb in a potter’s field, but God produces a man, Joseph of Arimathea, who obviously had both riches and influence to receive the body of Jesus.

Nicodemus also shows us.  We see the impact of Jesus on Nicodemus as Nicodemus does something brave:  He stands against the other religious leaders and chooses to honor Jesus.  His stand is not highlighted here, but imagine the opposition.  Those who had Jesus killed watched as one of their own sought to honor Him.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea both step forward at their own peril to honor Jesus.  The beautiful picture here is an example to all of us:  That in a culture that is increasingly becoming less ‘Christian,’ these men choose their faith over their status.  If our world continues on the path it is going, representing your faith in public may cost you more than ever, but like these men, we will have to choose.

Because of God using these two men, Jesus is given a proper burial with the spices and a proper tomb.  Their actions are tied to Scripture:

Isaiah 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

As these two men step forward, God uses them to fulfill His purposes as their actions make this prophecy come true.  The Gospel writers recording this event go out of their way to show that as prophecy is fulfilled, that it is the outward sign that God never loses control of the death and burial of Jesus.

The writings confirm across multiple witnesses that Jesus was crucified, that He died and we now have the confidence in their testimony that He was placed in the tomb.  By their testimony, the disciples give an account of everything that happened to Jesus.  I want to leave you with this:

We can trust the providence of God.  It’s not that life is always easy or pleasant, but we understand that God’s will is accomplished in the earth and no matter what happens to us, we are in His hands.  Whether death or life, hardship or ease, sick or well…  the greatest place to both live and die is in the center of His will.  God uses two men to bury His Son.  Jesus accomplishes the will of God in His death and the invitation is that God would use us.

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Stations of the Cross: Criminals Speak to Jesus

The 11th station of the cross is: Criminals speak to Jesus. Our reading today is from the book of Luke, chapter 23:

Luke 23:32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In considering the thieves on the cross on either side of Jesus, we must place ourselves there.  We don’t imagine ourselves there.  We don’t understand the death sentence over our lives as tied to something we have done.  How could we be thieves?

As we consider our lives, we often see more of what’s been done to us, but we don’t imagine having done anything wrong.  We don’t see ourselves as thieves.  In short, we don’t see our sin.  However, if we could be honest, the cross and its existence is the greatest testimony to our sin.  There’s no need for the cross if there is no sin, but yet it exists.

The two thieves also represent the choice we make regarding the Gospel.  Two men who know they are dying have different responses to Jesus.  One mocks Jesus, while the other humbles himself before Jesus and the outcome is much different because this thief knows that paradise is next for him.

In the end, this is our story.  We are dying, a little more every day.  We can call out to the blameless one and ask if He would remember us, though we rightly deserve death.  What we learn is that it’s never too late and there’s nothing we could have ever done to cause Jesus to deny our request.  

Yes, we are thieves, but He is a Savior.  It is by His love and mercy that the Savior makes us thieves no more.

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Stations of the Cross: Simon Helps Carry the Cross


26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. – Luke 23:26

The eighth station of the cross is that Simon helps carry the cross of Christ. There is very little said about Simon in the Gospels except for this verse, that he was chosen to carry the cross. There is much room for speculation on why this happened, and why Luke recorded specifically that Simon carried the cross behind Jesus. What we do know about Simon is that he came from a region of northern Africa and that his two sons, which are mentioned by name in the scripture, were later recorded as being missionaries for the cause of Christ in church tradition. Simon himself is considered to be one of the first bishops in the catholic tradition and is recorded to have died a martyr for Christ via crucifixion around 100 AD.

One of the most blatant pictures that this station paints for us as believers, is the significance of Jesus’s words to take up our cross and follow Him if we want to be His disciple. While we don’t know the exact reason Simon was chosen from the crowd, it was certainly not an expected moment. He was in Jerusalem with his sons to celebrate the feast of the Passover, and now caught in the crowd surrounding Jesus as He carried His cross to Golgotha, Simon was grabbed out of the crowd and told to shoulder the cross. There are no specifics on why someone was pulled from the crowd to carry the cross but Matthew Henry suggests that it was because the Roman soldiers saw Jesus about to die from the burden of carrying the cross and they were so worried that He wouldn’t actually make it to be crucified and what this might mean for their own lives.

In our lives, we never know when the moment might come that we are called to something that is painful to us but is perfectly in the will of God. Part of trusting in the sovereignty of God is knowing that God is in full control over everything that happens.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, – Ephesians 1:11

At times God’s will for our lives may be painful, it may be difficult, it may even seem like we cannot physically take any more, but understanding God’s goodness, and His love, allows us to lean on Him through it all, and submit wholly to His will and His will alone. What happens may not make sense to us right now, but someday when God’s plan unfolds we will understand. Jesus showed up perfect submission to the Father’s will, in His path to the cross. We are called to shoulder our cross and follow behind His example in perfect submission to the will of the Father for He is good!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 118:1

Father, as we continue following the path Your own Son walked to the cross, I pray that we can follow His example. Lord that when trials come and we experience both the good and the bad in our lives, that we can point to You and say that You are sovereign and we place our trust in You alone. That You lift us up and strengthen us through Your spirit and that we submit wholly and completely to Your will alone. That we gladly bear the cross and follow after Christ. We love You and thank You for Your goodness, Your mercy, and Your kindness to each of us. In the name of Jesus. Amen

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Stations of the Cross: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die


27 1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor…

22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” 24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[a] see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[b] Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. – Matthew 27:1-2, 22-26

The fifth station of the cross is Pilate condemning Jesus to die via crucifixion. Jesus is brought before Pilate because at this time it was unlawful for the Jewish rulers to condemn someone to death, especially the death of crucifixion. Pilate questioned Jesus regarding the charges against Him and Jesus remained mostly silent. Pilate’s wife sent word that she had dreamed that Jesus was innocent and for Pilate to have nothing to do with the death of this man. The innocence of Christ was known by Pilate, but the people shouted for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate used the ceremony to wash his hands and declare himself innocent of placing an innocent man to death. In a final attempt, Pilate offered to release either Jesus, or Barabbas, a murderer, and thief, yet the people shouted for the true criminal to be released to them and for Jesus to be crucified.

Crucifixion is considered one of the worse forms of torture and execution. It was reserved during Roman times for the worst of criminals. In Jewish law, it stated that any person that died on a tree (crucified) was cursed. Not only did this method of death involve the most extreme pain but it had spiritual significance in Jewish law as well. Pilate questioned Jesus yet Jesus stayed mostly silent. He could have called angels to deliver Him from this at any time, He could have defended Himself to Pilate, but He remained silent in submission to the will of the Father. This was the path that must be walked. This was the will of the Father. Instead of acknowledging Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the savior that Israel had been waiting on for so many years, the Jewish people condemned their savior to death and traded Him for a criminal.

I can’t help but see this reflected even today in our own personal lives and walks. How often do we fail to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in our lives and instead search after sinful abominations to feed our flesh? How often do we fail in submitting ourselves to God’s will and argue and shout to receive what our wicked hearts desire? How often does Jesus stand silent as we accuse Him? Yet, He loves us and waits for us, and forgives us our failures and shortcomings. How great is the love of Christ for us!

Father, Your son was rejected and condemned to die a horrible death by the very people that He came to save. By the very ones that You chose to call Your own. Father work in our hearts. Turn our hearts of stone into hearts that are tender to Your Spirit’s words. That we do not seek after our own desires and our own wicked ways but that we cry out for Christ and Him alone. Lord let our hearts cry always be for Christ and Your Word, that we never reject the truths You have revealed to us and that we never reject the calling and promises You have made for us. Let us cling to You and You alone in all things. In the saving name of Jesus. Amen