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14 Steps – Walking With Jesus to the Cross


by Michael J. Spoula
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It was a completely ordinary day. People in the town were buying and
selling. People were marrying and being given in marriage. Food was
being cooked and eaten. Children were getting under foot and being
children. Babies were being born. Sacrifice was being undertaken in the
temple. All through the town there was happiness because it was Passover.
The triumph of the nation over the Egyptians was being celebrated. But in
one part of the town, there was no happiness. There was a man, sad to look
at; his back was torn from the lash, there was a woven crown of thorns on
his head and beads of blood slowly flowed down his face. He waited
patiently as his tormentors prepared the needed materials for his coming
execution. He was tired, thirsty, hungry and longed to rest. But rest was
denied him as his guards kept him standing. Then he was given his cross, a
long roughly hewn board, about ninety pounds in weight which was placed
on his aching shoulders. He and two other criminals were started forward,
all taking the first step on the final walk of their lives. But let us go back to
the beginning and take the entire trip with this Jesus of Nazareth.

This is a retreat of fourteen steps based on the traditional Fourteen Stations


of the Cross that one can follow on the Via de la Rosa. Walk now with your
savior; carry your cross behind or beside him. Meditate on what each step
cost Jesus and what it brought into your life.
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JESUS IS CONDENMED TO DEATH


The illegal arrest took place in the dead of the night. There was no one there
to plead his case. No friend accompanied Him into the court. His loneliness
had its start the night before. When he was arrested in the garden all of his
friends abandoned Him and his only friend was darkness. Judas came and
planted the kiss of death upon Him and the soldiers took him into cruel
custody. He made no protest; he offered no resistance but meekly followed
the commands He was given. He was taken to house old Annas, a former
high priest whose monetary exploits had been hurt when Jesus cast out the
moneychangers from the temple. The old man came right up to Jesus and
spat in his face. Then without a word he gestured that the man be taken
from his sight. The party then went the short distance to the meeting place
of the Sanhedrin. The august members had been roused from sleep and
summoned in the dead of the night to a special meeting. The members, the
most respected men of Israel sat in their seats, some still rubbing the sleep
out of their eyes. One could see that not every member had been brought
in, just those that did not approve of this so called messiah named Jesus.
But those that supported the man were few and far between anyway. The
proud body waited for their dreaded leader to arrive, Caiaphas, the Chief
Priest. It was almost an hour later when the esteemed one deigned to arrive
and call the meeting together. He wasted no time; he demanded a death
sentence be declared against the pious faker, Jesus of Nazareth. The
members in chamber that night were no lovers of Jesus, yet a few of them
were uneasy that this trial was taking place in the dead of night. Caiaphas
assured them that any decisions taken before sunrise would need to be
ratified after the sun rose in the sky and day came. Other members
protested that there had been no witnesses. Caiaphas looked disgustedly at
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the protesting members. He told them that if witnesses were what the
distinguished members wanted, witnesses were what they would have.
Servants of the high priest were called and closely questioned. Yet not one
of them agreed as to what the accused said or did. The night was passing.
Caiaphas wanted this Jesus dead sooner rather than later, so he approached
the Man, who so far had said nothing, and demanded to be told outright if
Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the very Son of God. He did not expect an
answer from Jesus. He was very close to having to release Him because of
lack of evidence. He could not help but smiling into face of Jesus when the
prisoner said in no uncertain terms that he was the messiah. The smile
flashed so quickly that its birth and death were but almost the same
moment in time. The high priest put on a look of holy outrage and ripping
his garments shouted that no further witnesses were needed and that the
prisoner had blasphemed in their presence. He demanded what judgment
the Sanhedrin would now render. Almost with one voice they shouted one
word: Death. Morning came and the illegally arrived at sentence was
quickly ratified in the light of day and the prisoner was sent off to Pilate for
the sentence to be confirmed.

Pilate wanted no part of this religious bickering. He wanted to release Jesus


because he believed in dividing and conquering and the Jesus was a great
tool to divide the Jews against themselves. He tried to release the prisoner
once but the rabble shouted for blood. Having heard that this man was
from Nazareth, he had sent him to be judged by Herod. Herod sent his
thanks back to Pilate and asked Rome to judge the case. Pilate had to
admire Herod, for Herod was no fool. He would make no enemies over this
case. Instead Pilate representing Rome would anger one faction or the
other. Well, thought Pilate, if they want blood, let us give them some. He
ordered the prisoner to be brought out. He sat on the throne that
represented Rome and stated that he found no guilt against the man that
would deserve death but was going to flog the man as a chastisement.

Jesus was brought into the courtyard and tied to a stone pillar. The man in
charge of discipline came with his flagellum, a whip of many tails that had
bone sewn into the end. With great force he reached back and brought the
whip down on the back of Jesus. Great stripes of red appeared on the strong
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back and blood began to flow. Fifteen, twenty, thirty, finally thirty nine
times the whip hit the back of Jesus. Blood flowed and flesh hung from his
back. Pilate had ordered that the back not be washed, that the prisoner be
brought out just as he was after the scourging was completed. The prisoner
was brought out and displayed. The commoners in the crowd gasped in
horror, but the detachment from the temple screamed; “Crucify him!”
Pilate could not believe his ears. The prisoner was so pitiful that he thought
that this would have satisfied the blood lust of the temple crowd. He
shouted for silence and once again acquitted the prisoner. He saw that a
riot would break out any minute. He shouted out that he could not
understand why they would want to crucify their king. This was not a smart
move on his part; he had played right into the hands of Caiaphas. In one
voice the temple contingent shouted; “We have no king but Caesar.” Then
they said that “If you pardon him, a pretender to the throne of the emperor
you are not the friend of Caesar!” Pilate tasted the bile of defeat rising in
his throat. He called for water and a bowl. In a gesture used in Greek
justice he washed his hands with the water shouting that he was innocent of
this innocent man’s blood. Almost with a lilt in their voice the temple
group chanted; “His blood be on us and on our children.” Without another
word to the crowd, he sentenced Jesus to death on the cross and retreated
from the scene. Jesus was taken away. The Journey to Death and Life had
truly begun.
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Jesus Takes Up His Cross


The cross was now placed on the bleeding shoulders of Jesus. His back
could almost not bear the weight. He was weak from loss of blood; his
tongue was thick in his throat from lack of water. Yet he began the journey
by placing one foot in front of the other. The sins of mankind added to
weight of the crossbeam he carried. He walked always keeping his
destination in sight. His love for man carried him forward. Step followed
step, each of them a supreme act of courage and a supreme act of will which
carried him forward to a date with death. His back was bruised, bloodied
and bleeding. His body wracked with strength sapping pain. Yet without
complaint, he took up this cross and walked forward, always forward in
obedience to the will of the Father.
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Jesus Falls First Time


His legs moved more slowly now. Although he was the Son of God, he also
was human and subject to the weakness of his physical body. Utter
exhaustion claimed place in every muscle. The rough hewn tree pressed
against the torn flesh on his back. His head spun for want of water. He
pressed on, willing himself with almost super human will to move forward,
then his body failed, muscles protested and His legs buckled and the
ground rose up to meet His face and the crushing burden of his tree pressed
into his wounded shoulder and back. The key words here are “almost super
human.” His will demanded that he go forward, but his all too human body
was wasted with pain. The guards would allow him no rest, with whips,
kicks and blows they pressed him to continue. He began to rise, fell back
down and finally without a sound, He rose and continued his journey to
Golgotha, to pain and death, and in answer to his Father’s call once again.
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Jesus Meets His Mother

His legs protesting painfully moved in response to His spirit’s command.


He had to think of every move, of every step. The pain of the tree pressed
deeply into him. He slowed and then he saw her. His heart was already
broken because of the sins of men and it broke even more deeply as he saw
the sadness etched on the face of Mary, His beloved mother. He wanted to
reach out, to tell her that all would be well, that the Father was with him,
but he could not. Their eyes met for but a brief moment, tears flowed from
the Mother’s eyes and stained the pavement beneath her chin, her tears and
his blood mingled and then the guards pushed him forward, heedless of the
moment, uncaring about the love between these two people, to the guards
they were just a couple of Jews. Forward, they commanded, and the loving
Mother Mary, tears flowing as a sword began to pierce her heart faded into
the background as the march to death and ultimate victory continued.
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Jesus is helped by Simon


It was no act of kindness that the Romans performed for Jesus. It was
evident to the guards that Jesus might not last long enough to be placed on
the tree. Should he die on the way, they themselves would be in trouble.
The Centurion selected a “volunteer” to assist Jesus. Simon took up the
cross and for awhile carried it for Jesus. Simon had no idea who this
criminal was and he was not happy at what he was being forced to do. Yet
he did what the Romans commanded and stole brief glances at the bleeding
man beside him. Simon thought that the man must be the King of Fools to
have gotten himself into such a predicament. They walked together a little
further. Color was starting to return to the face of Jesus. The guard
motioned for Simon to hand the tree back to Jesus. Simon shook his head
and walked fifty more feet before the guard called a halt and removed the
tree from Simon and handed it to the Christ. Simon was pushed roughly
away and Jesus’ body once again bent under the weight, but this time he
seemed to have recovered some strength and he moved forward without too
much urging. Simon, being left behind, shook his head and faded back into
the crowd and went about his business.
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Jesus Meets Veronica


A tender kindness in a time of need is a blessing indeed. The crown of
thorns pressed into the forehead of Jesus caused blood to drip down his
head and into his eyes, stinging and making it hard for him to see the road
ahead. A young lady, filled with pity for the bleeding Jesus, pushed her way
through the crowd and with her veil wiped his face. The procession moved
on but on the veil was left the imprint of the face of Jesus, a gift for a
kindness delivered when it was most needed.
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Jesus Falls the Second Time


Again the body failed the commands of the will. Jesus stumbled and fell
again. The cross was a heavy timber indeed as it was weighed down by the
sins of all mankind which caused him to fall to the ground again. His body,
now shivering with pain urged him to lie down and rise no more, to accept
the sweet fading feeling of death and thus ending this horrible intolerable
suffering. But to die now would be to play the devils game. Only total
obedience to the Father would do. Total obedience of the Son would negate
the total disobedience of Adam; anything else would mean that the evil one
would have won the battle. He struggled back to his feet and then slowly he
moved his left foot in front of his right and then his right in front of his left.
Inch by inch, he proved his love for the Father as he walked toward Calvary.
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Jesus Speaks to the Women


The cross was heavy, his body weak, but the spirit burning within him was
strong. Along the road were a group of pious women, who looked at him
and driven by the deepest emotions of pity, cried at the site of the Good
Shepherd on his final walk. He slowed briefly but did not stop in his
journey as he told them to weep not for him but for themselves and for their
children. The women could not understand. They saw a man who was
wrapped with sorrow piled on top of more sorrow, a man acquainted with
pain and suffering who told them not to pity him. The good women did not
understand the prophetic words uttered by Christ. Neither could these good
women see what the future would bring. But what Jesus meant was if this is
how men treated God when he was present among them, what would
happen in years to come when the memory of his appearance faded? No,
the good women did not understand. They simply looked at the back of the
condemned man at he moved down the road.
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Jesus Falls a Third Time


Beaten, bloody, bruised, and bludgeoned, the body fails again as the ground
reaches up and seemingly pulls Jesus down into it. The devil laughs at the
spectacle of Jesus on his way to death. Air escapes the lungs of Jesus and a
groan escapes his lips. The guards entertain no thoughts of rest or respite,
they are almost at the place of execution and they want to get this bloody
business done. Blows land and he struggles to rise, and he finally makes it
to his feet and once again continues the journey that he came into the world
to make. The Father calls and he obeys.
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JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS

Insult follows injury as the clothing of Jesus is stripped from his torn body.
All of the hurts, all of the injuries, all of the bruises and tears are now
exposed for all to see. The chief priests nod their head thinking that now
this pious faker is getting what he deserves. The common folk passing by
shield the eyes of their children as they pass by on their way to Temple.
Shame covers Jesus and one of the people from the temple yell out an
insult, the others in the party laugh and taunt Him. Jesus moves his lips in
prayer. More insults ring out, more laughter, the crowd presses in. The
Roman guards drive them back.
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Jesus is nailed to the cross


The journey to this moment is over. Jesus is placed on the cross. The
executioner grabs his arm and with four heavy blows drives a nail through
the right hand, then the left then the feet. The pain causes Jesus to scream
in agony, but unlike others in his position, he did not try to move the hands
away from the executioners blow. He held them there steady. He was now
on the Cross from which on this small mountain He would teach us just
how much God really loves us.
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Jesus Dies
Father Forgive Them, They Know Not What They Do.
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
I Thirst…

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Jesus gave up His Spirit
It is finished; Jesus has answered the call of His Father. He has gone to the
Cross to redeem you and me. God has always taught from the mountain.
From the burning bush to the sacrifice of Abraham to the, to Sinai and the
Ten Commandments, to the Sermon on the Mount, God’s wisdom came
from above. Now, stretched between heaven and earth Jesus teaches what
true love is and how much God loves us. His body sags on the Cross and
later the Centurion would pierce the Savior’s body and there would come
forth blood and water, a final lesson from the Master who gave everything
He had to give.
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Jesus is taken down from the cross


She held him as a baby. She comforted him when he cried.
She supported his mission from the day she said Let it be
done unto me. The promised sword has pierced her heart
as she cradles her lifeless son in her arms. Tears again flow
freely from her as the coldness of his body floods through
her like as a spear of pure clear ice. Her friends try to pull
the corpse away for it is getting late, yet for a moment she
resists them and looks for a final time into the face of her
son, the true High Priest of the Father. Then she opens her
arms and the body is taken to a borrowed tomb for burial.
She follows her son as she has done all of her life.
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Jesus is buried.

Where you there when they sealed him in the tomb…sometimes it causes
me to tremble, tremble, tremble. We wait for the Third Day………….