Luke 23: Jesus Stays On the Cross
Week 15: 07/04/2023. Fri
The 15 stations of "Via Dolorosa" (Sorrowful Way, Way of Suffering) attempt to trace the route taken by Jesus on Good Friday in the Old City of Jerusalem, on the day of His crucifixion. The assigned passage for today starts with Station V (five), what happened there?
"SIMONI-CYRENAEO CRUX IMPONITUR" meaning, "a cross is imposed on Simon of Cyrene" Luke 23:26–27 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. (ESV)
Luke 23 depicted the forced labour which came seemingly out of nowhere, but imposed on Simon of Cyrene to help to carry the cross "behind Jesus" (23:26). Today, Simon is known and remembered in the Gospel of Luke for his literal "following Jesus".
In addition, terrible times are depicted for humanity (23:28–31) in the future, and now for the two other criminals (23:32–43), including rejection, scoffing, mockery. At the same time, wonder, amazement and praise came from unexpected quarters—the centurion (23:47), the chief executioner ironically, who praised God and recognised Jesus' innocence. Others regretted their actions (23:48) while Jesus' acquaintances and the women stood in silence, "watching these things" (23:49).
While the reactions from those who were there were varied, Dr. Luke chose three clear teachings of Jesus for His disciples then and in the future:
(1) Jesus taught forgiveness offered by Him for those who would embrace Him and His salvation: Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (ESV) Accept Jesus' offer of forgiveness. Forgiveness in Christ is real. Don't wallow in the mud no more.
(2) Jesus taught the reality of paradise which is obtainable even by the most debased criminals who invites Jesus into their lives, be it penal crimes, or religious/moral breaches. Luke 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (ESV) Paradise, heaven, is available for those who turn to Jesus.
(3) Jesus taught expression of faith and trust in God even in terrible times. Luke 23:46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (ESV)
Jesus quoted from Psalm 31:5 as He put Himself in the Father's hands confidently. Subsequently, Stephen, when stoned also put himself in Jesus' hands— Acts 7:59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (ESV) Do you trust God everyday? Who or what do you surrender to?
"Via Dolorosa" (Sorrowful Way, Way of Suffering), is not an easy road to walk, even for healthy uninjured persons. It is dark and gloomy at times, definitely filled with tears. But one day, you and I would complete it, nevertheless. But one day, we will see hope and the light of day. One day.
Via Dolorosa ends with Stations XI to XV (11–15): here are 2 photos taken on 28/11/2008, of the entrance to Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, a big church building built about A.D. 300 by St. Helena, (mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, a.k.a. Constantine the Great) to commemorate her search for the place of Jesus' crucifixion.
By staying on the cross and not coming down from the cross when mocked or provoked, Jesus demonstrated that He was the true Messiah. Station XV (15) is "The Resurrection: Jesus Rises from the Dead. He lives. Every Friday, at 3 o'clock (summer time: 4 o'clock) in the afternoon, the Franciscan Friars officially lead this practice of the Way of the Cross. They invite all the Christians pilgrims who are in the Holy City to join them.
Would you receive and live out those three teachings of His from Luke 23 (forgive, paradise, faith) and follow behind Him to carry the cross, your own cross daily? Have a good Good Friday.