Today, you and I are going to go on a special journey together. I invite you to walk the Via Dolorosa with me. In Latin, it means sorrowful way, or way of suffering. It is a journey through the old city of Jerusalem, from Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Remember, last time Jesus was in the garden praying, asking his father to let this cup of suffering pass from him. But you and I know that this was why Jesus was born. Why He lived a sinless life so that He could die on the cross and pay for my sins and your sins and open the door to heaven for us to restore our relationship with God. It’s why He came…
If you feel lost, you can be found. If you feel unloved, know that you are so loved. There is so much more to your story too.
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Today, you and I are going to go on a special journey together on the Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica, and I invite you to walk the Via Dolorosa with me. In Latin, it means sorrowful way, or way of suffering. It is a journey through the old city of Jerusalem, from Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It’s a little over 1900 feet. My daughter, Hannah, is in the holy land right now, and she actually walked this path today. It gives me the good goosebumps to say those words out loud. Last time Jesus was in the garden praying, asking his father to let this cup of suffering pass from him. But you and I know that this was why Jesus was born. Why he lived a sinless life so that he could die on the cross and pay for my sins and your sins and open the door to heaven for us to restore our relationship with God. It’s why he came.
Easter is the fulfillment of Christmas. Jesus was arrested in that garden. Then the religious leaders put him on trial in the middle of the night and accused him of blasphemy. He was dragged before King Herod and Governor Pilate. And we pick up the story in Luke chapter 23, beginning in verse 13.
Then Pilate called together the leading priests and other religious leaders, along with the people, and he announced his verdict. You brought this man to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this point in your presence, and find him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty. So, I will have him flogged and then I will release him. Then a mighty roar rose from the crowd and with one voice they shouted, Kill him and release barrabas to us. (Barabbas was in prison for taking part in an insurrection in Jerusalem against the government and for murder).
Let me just pause here for a moment because you might be wondering why are they releasing a prisoner? Well, during Passover, it was customary to pardon one prisoner as an act of goodwill. Picking it up in verse 20.
Pilate argued with them because he wanted to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, Crucify him, Crucify him. For the third time, he demanded, why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death, so I will have him flogged and then I will release him. But the mob shouted louder and louder, demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their voices prevailed. So, Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder, But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished. As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon who was from Cyrene happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
Quick note here. I just wonder how that changed his life. I wonder if Simon of Cyrene looked into the eyes of Jesus and was changed forever. I just wonder, picking it up in verse 27.
A large crowd trailed behind,
Here we are now on the Via Dolorosa.
…including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they will say, fortunate indeed, are the women who are childless. The wombs that have not born a child and the breasts that have never nursed. People will beg the mountains, fall on us and plead with the hills, bury us, for if these things are done, when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? Two others, both criminals were let out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called the skull, they nailed him to the cross and the criminals were also crucified. One on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing, and the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. He saved others, they said, let him save himself if he is really God’s messiah, the chosen one. The soldiers mocked him too by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, if you are the king of the Jews, save yourself. A sign was fastened above him with these words: This is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals hanging beside him, scoffed. So you’re the Messiah, are you prove it by saving yourself and us too while you’re at it. But the other criminal protested, Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus replied, I assure you today you will be with me in paradise. By this time, it was about noon and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone and suddenly the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, father, I entrust my spirit into your hands. And with those words, he breathed His last. When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, Surely this man was innocent. And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. But Jesus’s friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
I want to leave it there because it’s so fitting. The women are watching and wondering, and they don’t get it yet. They don’t know how much more there is to the story, but I believe they’re hoping in this moment. I thought it would be so beautiful to end our time together today by sharing the words of a very beloved hymn,. The Old Rugged Cross. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. If you feel lost, you can be found. If you feel unloved, know that you are so loved. There is so much more to your story too. Join us next time. And until then, remember just how loved you are.
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