Yesterday I mentioned to our faith community that for the longest time I didn’t understand all of the extra fuss about Easter.

Don’t get me wrong- I like the seasonal candy as much as the next guy.  (Reese’s eggs anyone?)

And as a follower of Jesus I understand the importance of the empty tomb.

However, I came to faith in a church that taught that Jesus’ resurrection was something we celebrate EVERY Sunday.  (Seems like I remember that being the explanation for why we met on Sunday- “It is the Lord’s day.”)

With hindsight, I think I never fully appreciated Easter because I hadn’t taken much time to dwell on the suffering of Jesus.

Sure, I understood that He was beaten and crucified.  I’d even had the process graphically explained to me.  But I never stopped to dwell on the grief, sorrow and loss that Jesus’ first followers experienced.

And I learned that without the grief- you can’t fully appreciate the joy of the resurrection.

So this week I’ll be writing a series of posts based on the 7 Stations of the Cross that appear in John 19.  Our church community spent last Sunday’s gathering walking through them.

If you are interested in prepping for Easter, join me each day this week.

Read the scriptures- maybe out loud and/or several times through.

Sample my reflections.

Draw your own conclusions.

Sit before God in prayer.

And see if a little darkness and grief doesn’t make next Sunday’s morning sun shine a bit brighter.

station1jesusmockedSTATION 1: JESUS IS CONDEMNED

Opening Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
take me along that holy way
you once took to your death,
Take my mind, my memory,
above all my reluctant heart,
and let me see what once you did
for love of me and all the world.

Scripture Reading:

John 19:1-16a

For Reflection:

After a night of exhausting trials, Jesus finally finds himself before the Roman magistrate Pontius Pilate.  The man who holds God’s fate in his human hands is conflicted.  Pilate doesn’t believe Jesus should be convicted of anything.  But he also has to deal with the reality of the bloodthirsty mob that is begging for violence.  Seeking middle ground, Pilate turns Jesus over to the Roman soldiers for a beating.  Unfortunately for Jesus, these men take pleasure in their craft.  Leather, metal and bone meet flesh.

I don’t even need to tell you which wins.  In all, Jesus takes 39 lashes.  Stop and count out loud to 39.  Takes a while, doesn’t it?  Some who were condemned never even survived the beating.  But Jesus does.

crownofthornspainting1And for good measure, the soliders decide to give Jesus a new wardrobe.  As the Creator of the Universe, Jesus  had worn crowns made from the brightest stars and robes so lush that the most beautiful places on the planet only begin to hint at their majesty.  On this day His wardrobe is much less regal.

His torturers weave a crown from some thorny branches- then properly seat it so that it will stay in place.  Someone finds a tattered, filthy scrap of purple fabric.  This is installed on Jesus’ raw back and shoulders with enthusiastic pats.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is being mocked.

His body is being broken.

And the worst part is…His suffering is only begining.

This beating won’t slake the blood lust of Jesus’ enemies.  Only more pain, more blood- and ultimately death- will suffice.

Q: What do you think Jesus’ friends felt when they heard Pilate order that Jesus be scourged?  Do you think they had the courage or felt the obligation to watch?  Would you?

Q: The soldiers’ mockery of Jesus was obvious for all to see.  Have you ever mocked Jesus’ or His authority in your life?  If so, was it blatant or more subtle?

Closing Prayer:

I adore you, O Christ,

and I bless you,

because by your holy cross,

you have redeemed the world.