Praying the Stations of the Cross, Part Three

156393383

 

Seek Surprising, Sweet Intimacy with Jesus – 5th Station: Jesus receives Simon’s help to carry the cross

Praise the Lord: I praise you Lord Jesus Christ.  By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture: Mark 15:20-22, Psalm 38:6-7, 10-11; Philippians 3:10-11

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need of Christ: There is a surprising, sweet intimacy with Jesus if you learn how to accept the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.  Simon of Cyrene discovered this, as did the Apostle Paul and many other great followers of Christ over the centuries.

It is one of the most touching scenes of Jesus’ passion when Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross.  At first he has to be forced to take on the pain and shame of helping Jesus.  But when he and his sons discovered that Jesus was the Savior of the world and that he extended God’s mercy even to those who crucified him, they apparently realized that they had been given the greatest honor and put their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Romans 16:13)

Do you and I love Jesus enough to help him carry his cross?  In a sense we help Jesus carry his cross whenever we deny ourselves, take up our own cross, and follow him (Luke 9:23-24)

Don’t misunderstand me.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re to carry Jesus’ cross!  He doesn’t ask you to carry his cross, but yours.  And he knows you can’t do it alone.  If Jesus accepted help to carry his cross then how much more do we need to do so!

So what does it mean to help Jesus carry his cross?  Anytime we deny ourselves some privilege, comfort or right to justice in order to identify with Christ we are sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings.  Anytime we are hurt or mistreated even though we’ve done nothing wrong there is a special opportunity to identify with Christ and consider how he experienced a pain like that and much worse out of love for us.  For instance, a common opportunity to identify with the cross of Christ is to bless those that curse us as Jesus taught. (Luke 6:27-31)

Pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, you were bruised and bleeding after the scourging that nearly killed you and still you pressed on and carried the cross for us.  Apparently, the weight of the cross on top of your weakened body caused you to stumble and fall and so you received Simon of Cyrene’s help to carry your cross.

O Jesus, what an honor it is to identify with you and your cross.  And yet when I am persecuted or in pain often I miss the fellowship of your sufferings.  Forgive me Lord for the ways that I have not drawn close to you in my suffering and willingly helped you to carry your cross.  Thank you for your mercy that sets me free from sin and gives me strength for life and so that for your sake I can love others, including my enemies.

Reflect:  What mistreatment or suffering are you experiencing?  How did Jesus experience something like this in his life or the way he died?  Have you ever thought of Jesus’ cross when you were in pain?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Consider a painful situation in your life and instead of complaining or worrying about this accept it as the fellowship of Christ’s suffering – an opportunity for surprising, sweet intimacy with your Lord and to be his witness.

Abide in Christ:  Recall an injustice or other pain you’ve experienced (or consider one that you might experience) and slowly repeat the breath prayer: “I want to know Christ…. And be willing to suffer for him” (Philippians 3:10)

Bless Jesus with your Kindness: 6th Station – Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Praise the Lord:  I praise you Lord Jesus Christ.  By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture: Matthew 25:37-40, 1 Corinthians 13:4

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need for Christ:  Who is Veronica?  Nobody knows for sure.  She’s not in the Bible. But opening your heart to this story from the Stations of the Cross could change your life.

We don’t know whether or not there actually was a woman named Veronica who saw Jesus carrying his cross and offered him a cloth to wipe his face of blood and sweat.  It’s a story that’s been passed down for many centuries.

The legend of Veronica’s compassionate ministry to Jesus illustrates an important lesson that Jesus lived and taught his followers:  Trust greatness is seen in simple acts of kindness that get no fanfare.  Faithfulness in little things is big in God’s eyes; the servant is the greatest in God’s kingdom (Luke 19:17; Matthew 23:11)

Jesus, the King of kings, continually extended little kindnesses to others.  He repaired broken chairs.  He fixed breakfast.  He washed feet.  He touched lepers.  He comforted sick people.  He brought food to the hungry.  He played with children.  He listened to the broken-hearted.  He went to parities with social outcasts.  He ministered to people who interrupted him.  Day after day for three years he quietly taught a few uneducated men and women in how to be his apprentices in godly living.  He loved his enemies, blessed those who cursed him, and prayed for those who abused and crucified him.

All these things Jesus does for us and he asks us to do the same for others.  He said when we offer a kindness to another person – for instance, those who are hungry, thirsty, cold, lonely, sick or in prison – that it ministers to him personally (Matthew 25:31-46)

Indeed, love is kind but first it is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4).  It takes patience to be kind – especially to difficult people! Often we’re too busy or pressured to be kind to others.  We need to learn to slow down so we can appreciate the kindness that bleeds out of Jesus to us in his passion.  Then we’ll be in position to share his kindness with others – and that blesses Jesus!

Pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, I need your kindness.  I’m sorry when I get busy or distracted and fail to appreciate how generous and gracious you are with me and neglect to share this with the people that you put in my path.

Thank you for this legend about Veronica and the reminder that little expressions of love to you or to other people bless you.  Lord, more than anything I want to be a blessing to you!  Please free me from the distractions and insecurities that inhibit me from slowing down or stepping out of my comfort zone to express my love for you through compassionate service to others.

Reflect: Do you sometimes find it hard to be kind to others because you’re too busy, too hurried, or too preoccupied?  If this is the case, can you see that when you’re pressured you’re also distracted from appreciating Jesus’ kindness to you personally?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Consider adding more margin (space between activities) and rest spots in your daily schedule so that you can better appreciate the kindness of Christ to you and be prepared to share this with others.

Abide in Christ:  To practice the flow of receiving (breathing in) and giving (breathing out) God’s love try gently repeating this gospel prayer: “As Jesus loves me…so will I love others.” (1 John 4:19)

Let Jesus Carry your Sin and Sickness: 7th Station: Jesus takes the Fall for Us

Praise the Lord: I praise you Lord Jesus Christ.  By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture:  Isaiah 53:4, 5-7; Psalm 119:25, 27-28

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need for Christ:  There are two things that you can’t carry: sin and sickness.  You’re burdened with both.  You might think you can manage or even solve them, but you can’t.  It’s the same for every person.  We need Jesus!  “By his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

The prophecies and prayers of Isaiah and the other prophets, including the Psalmist, lead us to put our trust in Jesus.  It’s amazing that over 700 years before Christ Isaiah prophesied the essential details of his birth, life, suffering, death, burial and resurrection.  Jesus fulfilled hundreds of detailed prophecies about the Messiah to come, proving that he was the Son of God and Savior of the world.  He also fulfilled the prayers and righteousness of the Psalms, gathering up all of our suffering to make us fully alive and glorious human beings like him.

Jesus fell from heaven to earth for us and then from the earth to the cross – he took the fall for us; he did for us what we could not do on our own.  We can’t solve sin.  We can’t heal hearts and bodies.  We can’t produce peace. These are gifts of God’s grace that only come to us through Jesus Christ as we trust in him.

We need to appreciate that Jesus didn’t just take the fall for us he also rose again for us – the two go together.  When we imagine that Jesus may have fallen under the weight of the cross again and again we need to impress upon our minds that he rose up again and again!  He conquered our iniquity.  He conquered our infirmity.

Christ lives to rise up in your heart right now!

Pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, you are the long awaited Messiah!  You are the Good Shepherd of eternity and the Lamb of God that was slain.  How can it be that you, our Lord, became the scapegoat to take away our guilt?  You are holy and whole, pure, and perfect and yet you carried the cross for us.  You were pierced to bring us peace – peace with God, peace with one another, peace within our own souls.  And to prove it you rose from the dead!

How can we thank you, Jesus?  What can we do in response to the divine forgiveness and favor you extend to us?  All we know to do is to love you and give our lives to serve you.  Help us to be faithful to remain devoted to you and your kingdom even when we don’t get to experience all that we hope for from you.

Reflect:  Have you been trying to overcome a sin or sickness in your own strength?  Why not seek the mercy of Christ instead?  Is there someone you know struggling with sin or sickness that you need to intercede for?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Renounce the pride in you that tries to rise up in your own strength when you’ve fallen down so you can instead reach for Christ’s hand of mercy to lift you up.

Abide in Prayer:  Consider a sin or sickness that you tend to fall into and see yourself reaching for the hand of Christ as you slowly repeat this breath prayer: “Jesus, life me up…. From the gates of death.” Psalm 9:13

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!