Image of La Via Dolorosa courtesy wikipedia.org.
La Via Dolorosa (The Way of Suffering) was the route that Jesus walked through Jerusalem carrying the cross to his crucifixion. Today, that 2000-foot journey, that took place 2000-plus years ago, is re-enacted by members of the Roman Catholic church. La Via Dolorosa is a narrow marketplace full of traders and shoppers. But on Good Friday, all eyes were on Jesus, condemned to die for a crime he did not commit.
It is inconceivable to imagine the suffering Jesus endured during the Holy Week. While Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday, his disciple Luke reported that he was so distraught, "his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:44).
On Good Friday, Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. A crown of thorns was placed on Jesus' head and the Roman guards gave him a scourging (whipping). Then, Jesus had to carry the cross over his shoulder along the Via Dolorosa, stooped over, sweating and bleeding, often stopping to regain his footing or catch his breath. Finally, he climbed the hill to Calvary where he was nailed to the same cross he had carried in between two other "criminals".
Raphael's painting "Il Spasimo" circa 1516 courtesy wikipedia.org.
When Roman Catholics re-enact Jesus' journey on Good Friday, they stop at several "stations" to commemorate important events. Here are the fourteen stations:
1. Jesus is condemned to death by Pontius Pilate.
2. Jesus carries his cross.
3. Jesus falls for the first time.
4. Jesus meets his mother, Mary.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls for the second time.
8. Jesus consoles the pious women of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus falls for the third time.
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12. Jesus dies on the cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
It's amazing to think that God gave us his only Son to die for us on the cross. There is no greater sacrifice than to give up one's own child. On the cross, Jesus called out: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) He died so that we might live!
Note: Billi Sprague and Niles Borop wrote a song about Jesus' climb to Calvary called "La Via Dolorosa", often performed by Sandi Patti.
Image courtesy 2.bp.blogspot.com.