This week we we’re exploring the Stations of the Cross, inspired by Marko Ivan Rupnik’s Contemplating the Face of Christ, and Henri Nouwen’s Walk with Jesus. Meditating on the way of the cross invites us to identify with Jesus’s suffering and death that leads to resurrection. His final hours were full of all the choices, temptations, and invitations we face today. It was Love that took him through; love that changes everything.

Today’s Bible reading

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. –Isaiah 50:6-7

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” — John 19:31-37

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. — Isaiah 53:12

More thoughts for meditation

The nails in Jesus’s hands and feet signify the end of liberty. He is no longer free. But freedom inhabits love from within. Love renders him free enough to choose to become an object in the hands of violent people. Humanity finally got what it thought it wanted — to kill God. But God brought about what God wanted — for love to overcome. The gaze of Christ crucified is the gaze of God’s relentless love for us. Christ gave himself up because he loved us so much that he considered us worthy of his trust.

Henri Nouwen writes, “Jesus was nailed to the cross and for three hours he was dying. He had done nothing wrong; he lived his dying completely for others. The total exhaustion of his body, the abandonment by his friends…all became the gift of self. And as he hung dying…there was no bitterness, no desire for revenge, no resentment. Nothing to cling to. All to give. By being given away for others, his life became fruitful. Jesus, the one without guilt, died an excruciatingly painful death in order that death no longer would have to be ignored, but could become a gateway to life and the source of a new communion. The way we die has not only much to do with the way we have lived, but also with the way that those who come after us will live. As he hangs stretched out between heaven and earth, Jesus asks us to look our mortality straight in the face and trust that death does not have the last word. We can then look at the dying in our world and give them hope; we can hold their dying bodies in our arms and trust that mightier arms than ours will receive them and give them the peace and joy they always desire. It was into this dying humanity that God entered so as to give us hope.”

Suggestions for action

Jesus sets his face like flint toward death, knowing that in the end, he will not be put to shame. The same is true for you! In the end, you will not be put to shame if you follow him. You are loved.

Until you get to the Sunday meeting, enjoy CS Lewis’s poem about love being like nails:

Love’s as warm as tears,
Love is tears: Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

Love’s as fierce as fire,
Love is fire: All sorts–Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering “Dare! Dare!”
To sap, to blood,
Telling “Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.”

Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.