Bible Lands Tour #7–The Way of the Cross

Yesterday we took a walking tour of Old Jerusalem. What a fascinating mixture of sights, sounds, and even smells.

It’s also a composite of Christian, Jewish and Muslim culture, heritage and religious belief. Surrounded by ancient walls, it’s home to such ancient sites as the Islamic shrine, Dome of the Rock, also called the Golden Dome,  the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates back to the 4th century and the Western Wall.

Going through security checkpoints with armed guards reminds you that there is not only security concerns but political and religious tensions among these groups as well.

As we walked around the Temple Mount, we were reminded of its rich Biblical history. It was here on Mt. Moriah that Abraham proved his faith by his willingness to offer Isaac. On the site, Jesus cleansed the Temple of the greedy money changers. Peter preached the first gospel sermon on Pentecost. And Paul was arrested here.

We walked through or by the various famous gates of the city–the Beautiful gate. The Lion’s gate. Herod’s gate. And the Dung Gate.

The shops and markets which crowded alleys were selling prayer shawls, rosaries, ceramics, souvenirs, all kind of icons, as well as serving falafel, pita, and fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice.

We saw the pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the man with an infirmity for 38 years (John 5).  Next to it is the church of St Anne where we paused for a few minutes to sing hymns praising God.

From there we began our most significant and sobering walk of the day. The Via Dolorosa, which is Latin for the Way of Suffering. Or The sorrowful way. It is the path tradition says that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. Of course, we are not sure. But it is marked by nine stations of the cross that depict Jesus on the way to Calvary.

As I reflected on the walk, the way of the cross, I am reminded that it was the way of rejection. The way of suffering. The way of humiliation. The way of pain.

Weakening by the merciless scourging, lack of sleep, and the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, Jesus walked that way to fulfill the Father’s plan.

I am humbled to know that Jesus walked that way for me. And for you. It was the way to bring pardon to the human race imprisoned by Satan and bound by sin.

Paradoxically it became the way of peace. Peace from haunting fears. Dread. And worry. Peace of mind that surpasses understanding. Peace within. Peace with God. Peace with others.

The way of the Cross is the way of salvation. The way to access the blood of Jesus. The way to divine association. The way of the cross is the way of redemption. Reconciliation. Restoration.

But the way of the cross is a way I must also walk. A cross that is mine to bear. A cross of commitment. Consecration. Transformation. It is a cross that exposes my own sinfulness. Shame. And short-comings. A cross of suffering. A cross of ridicule. And sometimes even a cross of isolation.

Thank God Jesus walked The Via Dolorosa. Without it, my walk today would have been a mere walk on a sightseeing tour. But because of it, I have access to the transforming power of the cross.

In the words of the 20th-century hymnist Jessie B. Pounds.

I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the Gates of Light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

3 Comments

Filed under Bible Lands, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Bible Lands Tour #7–The Way of the Cross

  1. rosie green

    So interesting, just enjoying every step of the way, thanks !!
    Rosie T Green

  2. Imagine, a woman about to give birth to a baby. She is engaged to marry a man who stubbornly refuses to marry her until after the baby is born. The woman keeps telling him her faith in God has impregnated her and he is to be the Father of their son and their son will be the first born of a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth where God lives 24/7.

    She walks down the path people now call the Via Dolorosa. Her Jo has lifted her up onto his shoulders. He stumbles. Falls. He almost crushes her with the weight of his fear, doubt and worry about the future. His skull is hammering. He hears jeers, laughter and angry words at every turn. He mumbles under his breath and she cannot hear him.

    His silence pounds in her ear. She feels cut off from him. She feels herself getting annoyed and angry. And then, she recalls the words of the prophets…how the stone that the builders rejected turns out to the be the head of the corner (Psalm 118:22).

    She comes to herself…Right…”Nevertheless, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day, for it is not admissible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling. Look, your house is left to you desolate. And I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

    …Yes she must keep going. She must have courage. Her story is not about sin. It is about Faith, Redemption and Grace. It is about believing in God and the incarnation of God in humanity. Her story was not a mistake. It is my story. It is yours. It is The Ecumenical Affair. It is everyone’s story. On the way to discovering our divinity, we stumble and fall. We are human. Faith is more than a belief in God. Faith is about living and being the people of God, Godly.

    Jesus is perfect because Jesus is Mary and Joseph’s child. Mary laboured hard and walked the Via Dolorosa and her Jo carried her. She did not give up. Jesus came alive in the fullness of time. Her faith in the Father, her Don Jose, her LORD, and the Future of Humanity and all Creation did not waiver even when Jesus the Rabboni told her not to contact him and the disciples told her to stay home.

    The Madonna’s faith is the Dolorosa. Love suffers all things and labours hard to bring the very best to life to cherish and boast about (1 Corinthians 13:.4-7; Song of Songs 5:10)–even when others are so sure the one you love and cherish is the worst sinner, an adulterer, a player and is demon possessed or the devil incarnate.

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