Good Friday Stations of the Cross Journey
Welcome as you journey with Jesus to the cross. A custom of our Christian tradition is to keep vigil with Jesus at different ways during Holy Week. One of the places from which we draw this custom is Jesus’ request to his disciples to keep watch while he prayed and agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. We also know that there were those few – including Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother Mary, and the apostle John – who stayed near the cross and kept watch as Jesus suffered and died. Despite the horror of what was taking place, those most intimate with him stayed with Jesus to the end. Walking and praying through the stations is one way we can join these ancient followers and keep vigil with Jesus.
For each station, there is a page in this packet which contains the text for the event depicted by the artwork, as well as reflections designed to help you ponder and pray about what you are seeing (adapted from Lent: A Season of Returning, Ruth Haley Barton). Please feel free to take as long as you like at each station. We ask that you would maintain a spirit of quiet as you do so. If something comes up as you go along for which you would like prayer, there will be someone in Tim’s office (“Pastor’s Office,” Second Floor) ready to pray with you or for you.
Many thanks to our contributing artists: Rachel Fondell, Lexi Parker, Robin Lawrenz, Thais Ziegenhals, Debbie Griffith, Alice Stebbings and Genie Dorfman. And to Robin Lawrenz and Thais Ziegenhals for their amazing set-up!
Let us walk prayerfully into these moments of meditation, watching and waiting with Jesus through the darkness of his death so that together we can share in the joy of his resurrection. May the Spirit be your comfort and your guide.
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - The Book of Common Prayer
Station #1 – Jesus Is the Lamb
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the way, what must it have been like to understand that you were called to be the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice to which all other sacrifices had been pointing?
Centuries before the cross, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the law, the Israelites discovered that God had included provision for sin. It was the sacrifice of an animal. The animal’s blood covered, or atoned for, the sin committed. This was a bloody and poignant reminder of the cost of sin and the need for forgiveness. No one believed the blood of an animal was equal to the blood of a human being, but according to Jewish law, the blood of an animal was enough. The challenge was that sacrifices had to be done repeatedly. There was no final sacrifice for sin.
But when John the Baptist saw you coming, he declared that literally you were going to be the ultimate and final lamb, the ultimate sacrifice for sin, Jewish sin, Roman sin, Gentile sin, my sin. You would not do this in some symbolic fashion; through your voluntary and willing death, you would, as the Son of God, be the perfect sacrifice that would carry away the sins of the world once and for all.
As we walk this way together, teach me, Lord, to better understand, and be grateful for, the sacrifice you made for me.
Lord , in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #2 – Jesus Is Condemned to Die
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, what was it like to hear the crowd call for your life so soon after they had cheered your arrival on Palm Sunday? What was it like to have your life exchanged for that of a hardened criminal? How did it feel to realize that your “hour” had finally come?
We are all condemned to death. Sometimes we bring death on ourselves; sometimes it is at the hands of others. Always, death is an inevitability of the human situation. Even though we try to avoid it, the Paschal rhythm of death, burial, and resurrection teaches us that the only path to new life leads through the dark and narrow passageway of death.
Lord Jesus Christ, our friend and brother, you faced your accusers with quiet dignity. You walked into your death with honesty and grace. Show me those places in my own life where I must die to self in order to be born to new life. As we walk this way together, teach me how to meet my own deaths – large and small – with courage and grace. May I know that you are with me, even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #3 – Jesus Is Mocked and Stripped
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, how could you let them mock you so and yet say nothing? Wouldn’t you at least want to give those kneeling soldiers a swift kick? This station is hard for me. Even now, I want to find some way to avert my eyes . . . pretend it didn’t really happen . . . convince myself they did not strip you completely, that they left you with some shred of dignity. But somehow, I don’t think they did. This business of being stripped of one’s dignity is more than I can bear. As we walk this path together, I become aware of how much I protect myself to maintain my own dignity. I also become aware of how I can strip others of their dignity.
As we walk this path together, Jesus, help me look at you and see that even though they stripped you of your clothing, they could not strip you of your true identity. Help me to root my identity, not in my performance, nor in my possessions, nor in my reputation, but in you so I know that ultimately I have nothing to lose. May I rest in the fact that, through your work in the cross, I am a beloved child of God, holy and dearly loved.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #4 – Jesus Takes Up His Cross
17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, how much did that cross really weigh? How heavy was the burden you bore? How weighty, actually, was my sin? How ever did you bear it? Why did you bear it?
Sometimes events in our lives seem like a burden far too heavy for us. Sometimes, even your call upon our lives seems like more than we can bear. We are tempted to shrink from the challenges and hardships of our path. We wonder if we can make it all the way up the hill. Lord Jesus Christ, you carried your own cross with strength and perseverance, filled with love and were undeterred by those who demeaned you along the way.
As we walk this way together, show me what is my burden to bear. Teach me where I need to shoulder what you are calling me to do. Reveal to me where you may be asking me, in love, to help carry someone else’s burden. Remind me that I am not alone, that you have gone before me and are now with me, every step of the way.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #5 – Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
You may take a nail from the bowl and hold as you reflect and pray.
Feel free to take it with you.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, though the mocking grows even louder, what I really can’t even begin to imagine are the nails. What do you feel? What do I feel? I don’t even know. But now, to be sure, the time has come, the moment to which your whole life has been leading. I look at you and see that you are not afraid. You are resolute and committed, and I am in awe of what I see. Is there any word that could come from my mouth, any sentence that could capture what is happening now?
You die for me, you give your all for my sins, you become the Man of Sorrows so that I can have joy. As we walk this path together, I learn that sometimes there are no words.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #6 – Jesus’ Mother
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, your life on this earth was shaped by a mother who was utterly given over to the will of God in her life. Her prayer, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word,” reverberates throughout history as a picture of what it means to be totally given over to the will of God. I wonder what it was like to look into her loving eyes as a little boy. I wonder what it was like, on that day of your death, for you to see the pain such love brought upon her. I wonder what it was like for her to look into your eyes as you hung on the cross. Who could have imagined that it would end in such a way?
Lord Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend, your mother’s life teaches us that sometimes we must let go of that which we have birthed. We must allow it to be taken from us in order for it to be returned to us again. Sometimes it seems like this is the deepest pain of all. As we walk this way together, teach me how to rest in your word, and to let go of . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Station #7 – Jesus Dies
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Near the cross, there are several copies of James Tissot’ painting, “View From the Cross,” which you may hold and look at while seated at this station. What draws your attention? Why might God be drawing your attention there? Talk to him about it.
Lord Jesus Christ, our Teacher on the Way, how did you know when it was time to let go? How did you know when you had suffered enough and could finally and completely commend your spirit into God’s hand? How were you able to trust that the Father, who didn’t rescue you from your suffering, was still with you?
I confess that I don’t always know when to let go. I cling and grasp for every last straw. I do not lay my life down willingly, and so it has to be wrenched from me – and that always hurts more. As we walk this path together, teach me how to let go when it is time. Teach me to relinquish that very last breath of a thing that I think is mine to claim in this life, so that I can live in total abandonment to you. Show me how to do what I do not yet know how to do. Remind me that as I follow you, I do so in light of the empty tomb.
Is there something you need to confess, lay down, or give to Jesus for him to take away? Feel free to write it on a 3x5 card and tack it to the cross.
God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. [Col. 2:13b -14]