The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
How could any human impose such a burden upon Your torn and bleeding body, Lord Jesus? Each movement of the cross drove the thorns deeper into Your Head. How did You keep the hatred from welling up in Your Heart? How did the injustice of it all not ruffle your peace? The Father’s Will was hard on You – Why do I complain when it is hard on me?
Prayer for the Second Station of the Cross
Unfathomable discipline; as we walk through the Stations of the Cross we are able to see and appreciate Jesus’ incredible self -control. At the first station, he stands before Pilate who is unconvinced that Jesus is the threat people claim. Pilate asks Jesus if he is indeed the king of the Jews, Jesus replies with an infuriating version of “sure, whatever you say.” He is almost cruel in his refusal to let Pilate off the hook. Realizing Jesus is from Galilee, a relieved Pilate sends him to Herod who is the ruler of that territory and conveniently in Jerusalem for the week. As Pilate says to Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, “you’re Herod’s race, you’re Herod’s case”. Apparently, Herod is a big fan of Jesus and the two hit off. Finding no offense, Herod sends his new bestie back to Pilate whom I imagine closing his eyes in deep frustration upon seeing Jesus again at his palace door. Jesus is standing in shackles but Pilate knows it’s his hands that are tied. He hands Jesus over to be crucified and then washes his hands in front of the crowd as a sign of innocence (Matthew 27:24). A crown of thorns is thrust onto Jesus’ head and he begins his journey to his crucifixion.
At any point that Friday afternoon, did Jesus begin to wish he had handled things differently, if even for just a second? What about the unnamed participants in this torture, did they ever think twice? We see Pilate struggle but everyone else seems so sure, so justified to mock, shame and cut flesh. Throughout it all Jesus shows no hint of regret or even indulgent thinking that what he is suffering at their hands maybe won’t be for their benefit. Instead he is incredibly strong, resolved and while graciously obedient, he permits the honesty of the situation to remain. Before it has begun Jesus is clear to communicate that the atonement isn’t intended to candy – coat anything.
Every time I read this story I think about people who I feel have mocked, shamed and cut me or people I love. I need God’s considerable help in dealing with them honestly, honorably and yet graciously and any inability to do so only adds to the slices in my soul. “The Prayer of Loving Kindness” is a challenging version of spiritual physical therapy during which we pray for the health, happiness and well-being of the people who have hurt us most. Most of the time I can’t finish it and so I don’t. Forcing myself feels like I might cause something might pop or tear and this prayer is about healing. Sometimes it has taken years of regular attempts before I could complete the prayer with my whole heart. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten the wrong inflicted it’s simply grasping the grace to be able to speak Christ’s words, asking God to forgive them. They really didn’t know what they were doing; they really didn’t understand the depth of pain they were initiating or reinforcing. To be aware of my struggle reminds me of Christ’s divinity and my intense need for him in my life. Unlike so many of us, his heart is strong enough to push through the present and even the past to ensure a healthier future.