Via Dolorosa – The Way of Suffering

Good Friday

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
But the crowd pressed in to see
A Man condemned to die on Calvary
He was bleeding
from a beating, there were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
But He chose to walk that road out of His love
For you and me.
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.
Por la Via Dolorosa, triste dia en Jerusalem
Los saldados le abrian paso a Jesus
Mas la gente se acercaba
Para ver al que llevaba aquella cruz
Por la Via Dolorosa, que es la via Del dolor
Como oveja vino Cristo, Rey, Señor
Y fue El quien quiso ir por su amor
Por ti y Por mi
Por la Via Dolorosa al Calvario y a morir
The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men
Made its way to the heart of Jerusalem.
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road out of His love
For you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.
Songwriters: Miklos Rozsa
Via Dolorosa lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Stray

image

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the  lord  laid on him the sins of us all. ~ Isaiah 53:6

Most everyone at some time or another has encountered a stray dog. Sometimes they can be dangerous. Most often, though, they are pitiable creatures. Malnourished, you can see the outline of their ribs beneath sagging skin. Sometimes mange has taken over and the diseased canine is quite a distant cousin to the beautiful dogs we see in Purina commercials on television. But you see, they’ve lost their way … strayed from their owners … and left to their own devices do not have the capacity to maintain themselves. But do you notice how a dog will bolt for an open door? Running to escape the one who feeds, bathes, pets, and loves them?

I don’t know much about sheep … but dogs do stray away. And I’ve strayed away. I’ve left God’s path to follow my own. Bolted right out the door at the first opportunity to go seek out that glorious world out there. The adrenalin kicks in. It’s all new and fun. The freedom of a life without restraint! For some of us it takes a while for the reality to set in… for others, it’s pretty soon that we realize that life away from the Master is not that great. Oh, there’s plenty of stuff to explore and do. But once you’ve run around the neighborhood and urinated at every mailbox what is there to do? It gets to be supper time and there’s no bowl of provision. Hunger and desperation set in. And how many of us have tried to feed that hunger in a hundred different unsuccessful ways?

The stunning message of Good Friday is that for all the ‘fun’ we’ve had running around without the loving care of our Master, we are allowed to come back home. While we were dreading coming home, thinking of the disappointment, anger, and mess we left behind … someone else was cleaning it up for us. The door is open because in the powerful move of grace, the Master assigned our mess to someone else and left us free to return without consequence. Not only that, the one who inherited our mess did it willingly because He loves us. And because He could bear it when we could not.

When you leave God’s path to follow your own way, it’s never a pretty sight. Strays are never beautiful once they’ve been out a while.

When you leave God’s path to follow your own way, don’t forget the way back. Because you can come home.

When you leave God’s path to follow your own way, be mindful that someone else is having to pay a terrible price for your mistake.

When you are tempted to leave God’s path to follow your own way, why don’t you take a moment and think about that. And decide to stay with Him. Just … stay.

Take four minutes and listen to this awesome song by Avalon called ‘Stay’.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

 

 

Three Dark Hours

By the time the darkness had descended upon the land Jesus had been hanging on the cross for three hours.

Suffering intense agony.

Speaking words of forgiveness.

Listening to the cry of the thief on the cross.

Recognizing his mother.

Entrusting Mary to John.

Roman soldiers were watching him suffer, mocking him, dividing his clothes, gambling for his outer garment.

The chief priests were angrily criticizing Pontius Pilate’s inscription on the Cross “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Humanity passing by, a wicked parade of sarcasm, ridicule, challenge, and curse.

Then suddenly at noontime a somber silence descends as darkness instantly falls upon the land – leaving the hours between noontime and three o’clock in the afternoon a blank page in the story.  (Luke 23:44-49)

The darkness at the cross speaks to …

The Darkness in Our Hearts. Where have you encountered the darkest places in life? What are the dark places….In your home,   In your habits,   In your thoughts…

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. ~John 3:19-20

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. ~Ephesians 5:11-14

 The Battle Against Darkness. We are incapable of winning the battle against darkness on our own. We have an enemy we are unable to defeat on our own. We have a hope in heaven we are unable to attain on our own.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. ~1 John 3:8

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. ~Colossians 2:15

The Price Paid to Dispel Darkness. 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~2 Corinthians 5:21

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5

The glory of the resurrection story must be understood in the pain and darkness of the cross. Only in the Cross do we find our identification … the acceptance of the loss of answers … to be abandoned in the mystery of the cross. If we ever wonder why or why not, we look to the cross to know that even God’s son – innocent for the guilty – cannot be fully explained.

“God must pity any man who thinks he understands this cross completely. God have mercy on any child of God if the day comes in which he has not to sing, “Love so amazing, so divine. … in those three hours He could not save Himself. That was because His heart was set upon saving others.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

If this were the end of the story, it would simply be another tragic loss of life. Next week we celebrate the good part of the Good News. But this week we contemplate how much it cost God to defeat sin and death.

~John