Stations of the Cross

by Ned Wicker on April 15, 2022

During Lent, many churches with roots in the European liturgical church will focus on the stations of the cross. It is common for churches to have the stations of the cross permanently displayed on the walls. One of the most striking depictions are the stations on display at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, currently under repair after a devastating fire. Believers from non-Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist backgrounds may not be familiar with these stations of the cross. Some of these scenes are found in Scripture and others are rooted in stories passed on through church tradition.

The First Station: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die

The Second Station: Jesus Accepts His Cross

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother

The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

The Sixth Station: Veronica Offers Her Veil to Jesus

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

The Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time

The Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies Upon the Cross

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed in the Sepulcher

It had been some time since I attended a “stations of the cross” service, so I visited a Charismatic Episcopal church where my friend and former colleague was ministering.  Another dear friend, who serves as a deacon there, was assisting.

This was a service heavy with liturgy, and it immediately reminded me of the diversity of worship within the Christian church. Personally, I like liturgy, as it was something I grew up with. Father Kubena read from a script. There was a lot of repetition, as the congregation was invited to participate in response. 

The first nine stations they reflected upon are about Jesus on the way to the cross. The last five are at the cross.

The stations are recalling events in the final hours of Jesus' life. We are reminded of His suffering. Evangelicals remember the events, leading up to the cross, but not in a ritualistic way. It's just different. 

Fr. Kubena's church has a crucifix above the altar, whereas evangelical churches have an empty cross. The distinction here is that Jesus is not on the cross, but at the right hand of God the Father, awaiting the day He will return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus is very much alive!  He rose on the third day and walked out of the tomb.

I don’t mean to suggest there’s a hard and fast right and wrong here, just a difference in the way people choose to worship. 

I recall standing at the back of a Catholic mass at a racetrack. It was a Sunday morning before an Indy Car race.  I was standing next to a Methodist chaplain. He nudged me with his elbow and said, “I see you love the liturgy too.”  The priest was Fr. Phil DeRay, a lifelong friend of Mario Andretti. 

Fr. Phil once counseled a group of race car chaplains from various denominations. They were discussing how their organization could best serve the race car community. He drew a cross on a piece of paper and asked, “Can we all agree on this?” Everyone agreed.  “Good,” he said, “then we're done.” I thought this to be a brilliant response. 

Jesus is the beginning and the end. There is nothing else we need to focus on. 

This echoes the truth that Paul declared centuries ago, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

As you worship this Good Friday, remember what happened and what Jesus did for us, but understand why it happened and what it means for the world. Jesus died for our sins on that terribly good Friday. But Sunday came, and He was alive!

How will you reflect and worship Jesus this special weekend?

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