During the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the historian Josephus accounts that the Roman General Titus had as many as 500 Jews crucified daily.
Despite the fact crucifixions were common, it seems only one specific instance has managed to reach through time and change the course of history.
Some believe it was because on this particular cross of common beams and common nails, it was God himself who hung.
In the spirit of remembering Jesus, Church Simplified, together with Bonifacio Global City, presents:
Reflections on the Stations of the Cross
An interpretation of the age-old Christian tradition.
Fourteen interactive stations based on the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are set up throughout the Bonifacio High Street mall grounds to hopefully bring fresh insight to the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection.
For those unable to visit the exhibit site, here is an online rendering of the installation:
1. The Garden: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus is afraid.
It’s dark. He knows the soldiers are coming. And His friends are asleep. It will be the last time He sees them before they abandon Him. He knows their betrayal is only minutes away.
But He doesn’t accuse. He doesn’t lecture. Instead, He chooses to pray. He prays for His sleeping friends, and for everyone who would believe in Him from that point on.
We also know that He begged for an exit. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” (Luke 22:42)
If He could have, He would have turned His head back on the whole mess. But He didn’t.
He didn’t because He saw you. Right there in the middle of a world that isn’t fair. He saw you betrayed by those you love—in your own garden of gnarled trees and sleeping friends. He saw you, and He didn’t want you to be alone.
He had made His decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you.
- Paraphrased from
He Chose the Nails
by Max Lucado
Go ahead and stand in front of the mirrors.
Paraphrased from He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado
Think about the honesty of Jesus’ prayer. He’s about to fulfill his mission, yet he takes the time to expose to the Father exactly how he feels.
No facade. No pretense.
As you take a hard look at the reflection in the mirror, remember that Jesus endured what he did so that you don’t need to perform or put up a front to approach the Father.
Would you take this time to thank Jesus, because through him, you can come just as you are
2. The Betrayal: Jesus is Betrayed by Judas
The coins clink with each step. There are 30 pieces of silver—nothing too big, just the equivalent of a few months’ wages—in Judas’ pockets. As he walks, he thinks about Jesus. The night is silent and he wonders if he really loved this man, this friend, with whom he spent the last couple of years with. He had seen Jesus’ kindness. He had seen his compassion. He had witnessed the miracles with his very own eyes. And yet when word got out that those who felt threatened by Jesus had put a price on his head, Judas felt his heart give way.
Yes. Maybe he did love him. Just not enough.
Although most of us can hardly imagine perpetrating a betrayal like Judas’, we often trade God in for far lesser things: a career, relationship, a habit, or money. It could be a variety of many other things.
Oftentimes, the things we pursue the most are also tied to our greatest fears— what you love the most is what you fear losing the most. The Scriptures compel us to fear God above all else. We can freely take this risk because he is the one who loves us unconditionally and will provide for all that we will ever need
When we decide to devote our lives to anything less than God, we find ourselves on the losing end of the deal. The question is, for what are you selling yourself short?
The scales represent the different matters that we usually trade God in for. Take this time to think about a particular area in your life that you’ve been giving your heart to. Pick up a marble and place it in the corresponding slot.
Before you move on, consider this prayer:
Father, help me to want to love you above all.
3. The Trial: Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
Many bible scholars who have studied the trial of Jesus consider it an “illegal trial” for a host of reasons. Here are a few:
• Jesus was subjected to a secret preliminary examination at night. The law only permitted daytime hearings.
• The Sanhedrin by law could not originate charges. In this case the accusers were the judges.
• An advocate was required to speak on behalf of the defendant because the accused could not be convicted by his own testimony. Jesus had no one.
• The verdict could not be given the same day as the trial. Jesus’ trial was completed in less than nine hours, his execution within twenty-four.
The trial system of the Sanhedrin was one that took pride in how they erred on the side of mercy. Eager to cast “stones of judgement” so to speak, they didn’t even realize that they breached all their standards and condemned the only innocent man that ever lived.
There are times when we pre-judge other people too quickly. Often we draw hard conclusions about people even before we get a chance to hear their complete stories and, in a sense, cast our own hasty stone of judgement.
Pick up a stone from the bin in this station. Let it remind you of a person you have formed your own negative opinions on.
Reflect and listen to what your heart has to say about him or her.
Would you take this opportunity to ask God to renew your heart and transform it into one that gives people the benefit of the doubt.
Take the stone with you; you will need it in the stations ahead.
4. The Verdict: Jesus is Judged by Pilate
I find NOT HING WRONG with this man. (John 18:38)
I have found no basis for your charges against him. As you can see, he has DONE NOT HING to deserve death. (Luke 23:14-16)
What crime has this man committed? I have found in him NO GROUNDS for the death penalty. (Luke 23:22)
Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find NO BASIS for a charge against him. (John 19:4-6)
He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am INNOCENT of the blood of this JUST person.” (Matthew 27:24)
- Pontius Pilate
Roman Governor / History’s Greatest Coward
Pontius Pilate could have rewritten the story. He could have saved an innocent man from being unjustly executed, but he chose to wash his hands and please the crowd.
Today, this moment, you are presented with a chance to change a story for the better. The story of someone who is innocent and blameless—the story of a child.
For a donation of five pesos (or more), you can help pay for the care and education of one child, hopefully for a whole year.
Donations from this station will be forwarded to the “Sponsor a Child” program of WE International Philippines. For more information, visit their website.
Let’s rewrite their story; don’t wash your hands.
5. The Whip: Jesus is Scourged
Crucifixion typically began with flogging the back of victims. The flagrum, a short whip composed of braided leather strands tied to sharp pieces of bone and metal, was the choice tool of torture. Its intent was to weaken the subject to a state just short of death.
A description of Roman scourging appears in an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association from 1986:
As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.
The prophet Isaiah, foretelling the torture of the Jesus tells us,
But he was pierced for our rebellion, Crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
In essence, Jesus was whipped so that we could be healed.
Take this moment to pray for yourself, or someone you know, who needs physical or emotional healing.
We can come and appeal to God for requests like these because Jesus was beaten to make us whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
6. The Curse: Jesus is Crowned with Thorns
In the Scripture, thorns symbolize the effects of sin. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden, the land got cursed, “the very ground is cursed because of you… The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you, and you will get food the hard way.” (Genesis 3:17-18)
Because thorns are the fruit of sin, we only need to step in to humanity’s prickly patch to feel its thistles: Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety. Whether from our own doing or the fault of someone else’s bad decisions, we are all too familiar with the weight of sin and its consequences.
The crown of thorns that pierced his head is a reminder that Jesus completely absorbed the curse of sin. As a matter of fact, he became the curse for us. (Galatians 3:13)
- Paraphrased from
He Chose the Nails
by Max Lucado
Think about the one thing you did wrong in your life that has caused you deep pain and regret. Maybe it’s not something in the past; it may be something you continue to struggle with in the present. Whatever it is, it has negatively impacted your future, robbed you of joy and somehow hurt you or the people you love. In some instances, the effects this action have yet to be felt, but deep inside you know that it will lead you and others to ruin.
God can, and wants to, rewrite your story.
But, first, he invites you to lay down the stones you cast on others. The things we see wrong in other people that cause us to judge and accuse them. We need to realize that we too have fallen short of the greatness and holiness of God.
In this station, we invite you to deposit the stone of judgement you picked from Station 3 and leave them here.
Also, take a strip of black cloth provided. It represents your own sin and failures. For now, bring it along with you; you will be needing this in the stations ahead.
7. The Cross: Jesus Carries His Cross
The Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, according to tradition, is the uphill route that Jesus took as he carried the cross. Jesus arduously walked from the hall of Pilate up to Calvary, totaling to about half a kilometer.
No one really knows the exact route Christ followed that painful Friday. But a bird’s eye view of the Scripture story tells us where the road actually begins. No, not from the court of Pilate. It didn’t start from the garden of Gethsemane either. Not from the journey into Jerusalem. It didn’t even begin in Bethlehem.
The journey to the cross began long before. As the echo of the crunching of the fruit was still sounding in the Garden of Eden, Jesus was leaving for Calvary.
- Paraphrased from
He Chose the Nails
by Max Lucado
After the flogging, the victim was often forced to carry his own cross bar known as the “patibulum” to the execution site. The idea that the accused should bear the very instrument to be used in his own execution added insult to injury. The patibulum could have easily weighed over a hundred pounds which Jesus may have carried over the distance of two football fields.
In front of you is a representation of the cross we have come to know. Pick one up, carry it on your shoulder and walk a few feet. Get a feel for its weight on you and think about Jesus on that fateful day:
His bruised and weakened body. The mocking of the crowds as he passed. Walking to an execution of a crime he did not commit.
When you lay the cross down, take a few moments to thank God for walking a road we couldn’t walk on our own.
8. The Two Simons
“And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62)
Simon Peter fell from his high horse and flat on his face as he buckled under the weight of his guilt. In less than 24 hours, Peter went from declaring his loyalty to Jesus even unto death (Luke 22:33), to flat out denying that he knew the man. He had just denied his Lord. Not once, but three times.
Peter could have well earned the title, ‘History’s Greatest Flake’, but his story doesn’t end there. Decades later, he finds himself hanging on a Roman cross. Tradition tells us that he requested to be hung upside down, feeling unworthy to even die the same death as Christ.
The charge? Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel for those who need a second chance—the gospel for flakes.
Simon of Cyrene
When torture has taken its toll and the cross has become too heavy to bear, Jesus looks back and finds not a friend, not a disciple, not anyone from his inner circle. Jesus finds the help of a stranger.
He could have been left anonymous; records could have kept him unnamed. But the gospel writers don’t merely gloss over the detail that a foreigner helped Jesus carry the cross. For this act, he is forever etched in history. The stranger is from Cyrene. And his name is Simon.
Has there ever been a Simon in your life—someone who pulled through for you when you were in dire need, and help was no where to be found? Thank God for that person.
Now, here’s a chance to be a Simon to someone else. In the bowl are prayer requests written by people who have gone before you. Kindly pick one and pray for the stranger’s need.
Now go ahead and write your own prayer request and place it in the bowl. Give someone the opportunity to be a Simon to you.
9. The Crucifixion: Jesus is Crucified
The Romans perfected execution by crucifixion to an art. It was reserved for the lowest of criminals and carried out to inflict the maximum amount of pain before death.
The Romans did not tie the convict to the cross. They used tapered square spikes about five-and-a-half inches long and drove them through the wrist and feet, causing excruciating and intolerable pain.
Ultimately, one died by suffocation. To breathe, the convict was forced to push himself up on his feet to allow for the lungs to expand. As the body weakened and pain in the feet and legs became unbearable, he would eventually trade breathing for pain and exhaustion until the lungs collapsed and the heart finally failed.
Why choose such a horrible death? Why would God allow His only son to experience what is probably the most gruesome way to die in all of human history?
The sacrifice on the cross reveals how repulsive sin really is. But it also shows us the awesome magnitude of God’s love. God put your sin on his Son and punished it there, so that you would be free.
For moral duty?
No. God is required to do nothing.
John 3:16 reads that,
“God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only son.” The motivation was love. The motivation was you.
- Paraphrased from
He Chose the Nails
by Max Lucado
Take the black strip of cloth you brought with you from Station 6. Remember the sin that you thought of. The one whose effects you still feel, whose power is still real in your life that you struggle to break its hold on you. Let the black cloth represent the presence of that sin in your life.
With nothing but your finger as ink, write your sin on the black cloth.
Now take the hammer and nail the black cloth on the cross that lies on the floor.
Here at the foot of the cross, your Savior is reminding you that your sin is nailed to the cross—not in part, but in whole—and that you bear it no more. You are free.
10. The Mother: Jesus Entrusts Mary to John
It is almost impossible to reflect on the events surrounding Jesus’ final hours without thinking about Jesus’ mother, Mary. Tradition places Mary following Jesus as he trekked the road toward Calvary. And while most of Jesus’ friends had already abandoned him, we find the faithful mother at the foot of the cross until his death.
What memories flashed through Mary’s mind as she witnessed her beloved son’s torture? Did she replay Gabriel’s declaration of his birth, and that “His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:33)? Did she think of the silent night in Bethlehem when her baby boy was finally born? What about the time, at age twelve, when Jesus traveled to the temple alone to talk about God? And who can forget Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana?
One thing is for sure: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Mary was there for her son. She loved Jesus. And Jesus, he loved her. He cared for her so much that in the midst of his own suffering, he made sure to entrust her to the friend he loved.
This is the time to think about your own family. How is everything?
We often make the mistake of waiting too long before we tell the people in our own families how much they mean to us. You have this moment.
If you are with your family, grab this opportunity and let them know how much you love them.
If you are not with your family and you have a cellphone, would you consider making a call right here and now to someone who needs to hear that they matter to you.
Take this time to thank God for each of them. If there are strained relationships within, would you pray for healing and restoration.
11. The Promise: Jesus Promises Paradise to the Repentant Thief
Two thieves hang on the cross on either side of Jesus.
One insults him,
You call yourself Messiah? Well, then come down from that cross. How are you going to save us if you can’t save yourself? (Luke 23:39)
The other one tosses up a confession with a desperate cry for forgiveness,
We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
How could two men see the same Jesus, and one choose to mock him while the other choose to pray to him? We don’t know, but they did.
And when one prayed to him, Jesus loved him enough to save him.
And when the other mocked, Jesus loved him enough to let him. He allowed him the choice.
He does the same for you.
Will you choose to put your faith and trust in who Jesus is, and what he has done for you? It’s as simple as the thief’s prayer:
God, I know that I am a sinner. And I rightly deserve all of its consequences. But because of your love for me, you sacrificed your son, Jesus, to save me from my sin. Thank you for this. Today I place my trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Help me live out this prayer. Amen.
Please take a card from the pew.
12. The Darkness: Jesus Dies
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
A mysterious eclipse shrouded the hill of the skulls, the hill where Jesus hung.
Darkness is fitting for this moment, for the Light of the world had been snuffed out.
John the apostle, referring to Jesus, did say that
“the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it… The light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light.” (John 1:4, 8:9)
The darkness of Good Friday seems real. It seems permanent. Most of all it seems to contradict the promise of Jesus when he said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.
“SEEMS” is the operative word.
Enter the tent.
As you stand in this dark room, know that in this life, there will be times when darkness will surround you. It will seem to overthrow you. It will seem permanent. It will seem to have victory over you. In these seasons, be strong and remember that “seem” is the operative word.
Before you leave the darkness, say a prayer of praise to God for sending Jesus.
Go ahead, turn the curtain and let the light of Easter flood in.
13. The Cloth: Jesus Rises
“Peter then saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” (John 20:6-7)
During Jesus’ time, there was one way a carpenter let a contractor know a job was finished. A signature if you will. When the final piece of a job had been completed, the carpenter would typically fold a towel neatly in half and set it on the finished work and walk away. Whoever would arrive later to inspect the work would see the towel and understand its simple message:
The work is finished.
On the first Easter, Peter crouched in to look into an empty tomb. He saw only the linens that Jesus had left behind.
Imagine that a smile crossed Peter’s face as sorrow was replaced by hope. He saw the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face; it had been folded in half, and left neatly on the floor of the tomb. The carpenter had left behind a simple message.
- Paraphrased from
The Carpenter’s Cloth
By Sigmund Brouwer
Praise God for the hope Easter brings to us! It reminds us that just as Easter completes the work of the cross, God will complete the good work he has for our lives.
And just as the Stations of the Cross reminds us that what Jesus did, he did for all of us, would you now do something for someone else?
Take a card from the table. Write the name of a person whom you feel has touched your life in a special way. Post it on the board. Offer up a prayer of blessing for that person.
14 The Table: Remembering Jesus
The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,
This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
“This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.”
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34, The Message)
If you are a Christ follower and want to partake of the Lord’s supper, go ahead and take a piece of bread and a cup of wine prepared at the table.
Take a few moments in the area provided to remember that Jesus died and rose again for you. You are part of a family of Christ followers.
Have a blessed Holy Week!