Street names. Don’t get too use to them because they seem to change these days. Sometimes the change is in honor of a person, sometimes it is to eliminate the name of someone people no longer wish to honor. There are some famous roads … Route 66, Pacific Coast Highway, Wall Street.
And as I think of streets, there is one that gets global attention this time of year. It is not so much one street but a route that contains at least two main streets. It’s history goes back 2000 years, but it was not really acknowledged till about 1600 years ago.
The Via Dolorosa … the Way of Suffering. It was here Jesus was marched after his scourging in the Praetorium, forced to carry a heavy wooden beam part of the way, and mocked by the soldiers the whole way. And upon reaching the end of the journey, he would reach Golgotha where he would be crucified and die. The Via Dolorosa … the Way of Suffering.
They thought it was all over in less than 24 hours. Just one day and they thought they won. His enemies had eliminated him … and they did it in a brutal way. Truly they made him suffer; and truly, they thought victory was theirs.
Centuries ago, pilgrims would travel to the Holy City. They would walk along the supposed path of Jesus on the way to the cross. They would pause and reflect on each of the events that took place as recorded in Scripture. These became the Stations of the Cross.
First there were seven, then twelve, and now fourteen. The Catholic Church has put art work along the path (and some inside a local church as well). The stations have been put into art all over the world. Museums have them in 2D and 3D art forms. Churches display them.
This picture is from an outdoor display at Jiřetín pod Jedlovou in the Czech Republic.
This week, our church is putting the events in to dramatic stations as we see the point of view of the characters of Easter as they share their story.
These stations are a great way to remind ourselves of the journey he traversed for us, of the suffering he experienced so we wouldn’t have to, of the love that motivated him to endure, of the joy he felt knowing (Hebrews 12.1-2) the true outcome of the events of Calvary’s weekend.
The Via Dolorosa … the Way of Suffering … for you, for me.
There is a church in North Dallas that has put these stations of the cross into art work. They display them at their campus and open the doors for people to come and experience the art while devotionally exploring the depth of the Christ’s act of love. Simplistic in their graphics, powerful in their meaning.
They also put the twelve pieces into an online virtual tour with accompanying audio or written format to help guide you through the experience. (Check it out here)
The Via Dolorosa … the Way of Suffering. However, the story doesn’t end with the suffering. The religious leaders’ victory is short lived. The way Jesus travelled doesn’t end with his death. It ends with an empty tomb, with a risen Savior. The way of suffering is the way of victory.
Don’t want to rename Via Dolorosa, for I never want to forget what he did for us. But I also don’t want to walk away thinking the suffering is all there is … in the end, his is the victory. The crown of thorns … replaced with a Victor’s Crown.
This Easter, and every day, don’t forget that. The way of suffering is the way of victory.