Do You Know the Path to Take?  Loving on the Way Toward Easter

 

            Traditionally, la via Dolorosa is the route Jesus walked across the city of Jerusalem from the Antonia Fortress, the place of his condemnation, to Calvary, the Hill Golgotha, (John 19:17, *other gospels relate similar information) where He was crucified.  There are not a lot of verses in Scripture describing this journey, but we’ll look at a few.                                                                    Have you ever been wrongly accused?  It’s hard when even family and close friends, condemn you publicly without knowing the whole truth about the situation.  The Antonia Fortress was built prior to 31 BC and named after Mark Anthony, defeated at the sea Battle of Actium. [A Final Jeopardy question last night.]  It was a barracks for Roman guards, and it was also where the robes of the high priests were kept since it was next to the Temple Mount.  Part of this area became the Praetorium (John 18:33, 19:13 19:16) where Pilate interview Jesus.  Washing his hands of the innocence of Jesus, (Matthew 27:24) and releasing Barabbas to the crowd, (John 18:40.)  Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified.                                                                                     Have you ever had to do something difficult that you weren’t planning, on simply because you were there at the time someone was needed?  Jesus had been so beaten (John 19:1) that, along the way, another was compelled to carry the cross for Him.  Simon of Cyrene, (Matthew 27:32) now called Libya in North Africa, was one of the oldest Jewish settlements.  He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21, Note the song: Behold the Lamb.)  He is referred to as Simon called Niger, and it is probable that he was black skinned because of this name and his geographic home.  He had come in from the country to Jerusalem, and he had to have been strong.  Remember, Roman soldiers could make any Jew do what was commanded. Matthew 5:40-41)                                                                                                                              Several years ago, a pastor used the example of some mean boys taking a puppy and nailing its four paws, spread eagle, to a tree.  What would your emotional reaction be to that illustration?  And, Jesus was nailed to the cross by Roman soldiers.  Supposedly, this was the most horrific means of punishment.  Who killed Jesus?  For centuries the Jews have been blamed.  But, Jesus “gave” his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28) for our sakes according to God’s plan. His blood washes away a believer’s sin.  (Romans 5:9 and 3:23-25)

                                                      Jesus died.  (John 19:30)

            Jesus was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea and laid in his private tomb.  (John 19:38 41-42)

            Is this the end of the story?  It is the end of the journey along la via Dolorosa.  But, wait, there is the stop near the tomb.  As He predicted, Jesus rose from the dead.  (Matthew 28:5-6)  He met with people over a period of 40 days. (Acts 1:3)  He ascended into Heaven   (Acts 1:9-11) to be with His Father.  Can you imagine ascending into Heaven??  For years, my father was an Deist.  Shortly before his death, God gave me a dream:  my Dad ascending into Heaven, amongst pink clouds, into the arms of Jesus.  If you have trouble with these last steps on la via Dolorosa, I encourage you to return; walk back half way and comprehend the sacrifice that was made on the cross for you.  Then, as a believer, thank Him for the precious gift of His blood, and celebrate Easter:  Christ arose from the dead.   And, then He ascended into Heaven.  We look forward to being with Him forever.