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Showing posts with the label #Stations

Simon Peter denounces Jesus.

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Mark 14.66-72, Matthew 26.69-75, Luke 22.54-62, John 18.15-18, 25-27. After dinner earlier that night, Jesus told his students they weren’t gonna follow him much longer; they’d scatter. At this point Jesus’s best student, Simon Peter, got up and foolhardily claimed this prediction didn’t apply to him. Mark 14.29-31 KWL 29 Simon Peter told him, “If everyone else will get tripped up, it wo n’t include me.” 30 Jesus told him, “Amen, I promise you today , this night, before the rooster crows twice, you’ll renounce me thrice.” 31 Peter said emphatically, “Even if I have to die for you, I will never renounce you.” Everyone else said likewise. And y’know, Peter wasn’t kidding. I’ve heard way too many sermons which mock Peter for this, who claim he was all talk. Thing is, he really wasn’t. When Jesus was arrested, Peter was packing a machete, and used it. Slashed a guy’s ear clean off. You don’t start swinging a work knife at a mob unless you’re willing to risk life

The legality of Jesus’s trial.

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When you read the gospel of John , but skip the other three gospels, y’might get the idea Jesus never even had a trial. In that book: Jesus gets arrested. He’s taken right to the former head priest Annas’s house for an unofficial trial. From there, to Joseph Caiaphas’s house. Then to Pontius Pilate’s fortress. Then to Golgotha. No conviction, no sentence; just interviews followed by execution. Same as would be done in any country with no formal judicial system: They catch you, they interrogate you, they free or shoot you. But both Judea and Rome did have a formal system; John doesn’t show it because the other gospels do, and John was written to fill in the gaps in their stories. They have the story of Jesus’s formal trials. There were two: The one before the Judean senate, and the other before the Roman prefect. The senate, presided over by head priest Caiaphas, found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and sedition. In contrast Pontius publicly stated he didn’t f

On violently resisting Jesus’s arrest.

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Mark 14.47, Matthew 26.51-54, Luke 22.49-51, John 18.10-11. After sundown Thursday, Jesus and his students had a Passover meal, which Christians call “the Last Supper.” After it, Jesus had some things to tell them, and in that discussion there’s this: Luke 22.35-38 KWL 35 Jesus told them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, bag, or extra sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you ? They told him, “Nothing.” 36 Jesus told them, “But now those who have a wallet: Take it. Your bag too. Those who don’t have one: Sell your coat and buy a machete. 37 For I tell you this scripture has to be fulfilled in me: ‘He was counted among the lawless.’ Is 53.12 For the scriptures about me have an endpoint.” 38 The students said, “Master, look!—two machetes here.” Jesus told them, “That’s plenty.” This passage confuses people—usually because of the way it’s typically translated. Luke 22.36, 38 NIV 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and

Jesus’s arrest, and his abuse begins.

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Mark 14.45-52, Matthew 26.50-56, Luke 22.49-54, John 18.4-12. The second station, in John Paul’s list of stations of the cross, is where Judas betrayed Jesus and Jesus was arrested. Same station for both. But different forms of suffering: Judas was about when your friends or confidants turn on you, and the rest was about the pain and dread people feel when their enemies have ’em right where they want ’em. Let’s go to the gospels. Mark 14.45-52 KWL 45 Immediately going to Jesus , he told him, “Rabbi!” and kissed him hello. 46 So they grabbed and arrested him. 47 One of the bystanders, pulling out a machete, struck the head priest’s slave, and cut off his ear. 48 In reply, Jesus told them, “You come out with machetes and sticks to snatch me away, like I’m an insurgent. 49 Daytime, I was with you in the temple, teaching. You didn’t arrest me then . But this —it’ll fulfill the scriptures.” 50 Abandoning Jesus , everyone fled. 51 There was some teenager follo

What became of Judas Iscariot.

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Matthew 27.3-10, Acts 1.15-26. Technically Judas bar Simon of Kerioth, the renegade follower of Jesus whom we know as Judas Iscariot, isn’t part of the stations of the cross. Whether we’re using St. Francis or St. John Paul’s list, neither of ’em figured his situation is specifically worthy of meditation. Although we should study Judas some, ’cause he’s an example of an apostle gone wrong—an example we really don’t wanna follow. Nor repeat. But Jesus was too busy going through his own suffering to really focus on what was happening with Judas. Judas came up when he handed Jesus over to the authorities… and in three of the gospels, that’s the last we ever hear of him. The exceptions are Matthew —and since the author of Luke also wrote Acts , it’s kinda in another gospel, ’cause Acts is about how the Holy Spirit and apostles started Jesus’s church. But that’s a whole other discussion. Here’s the problem: For the most part, the Matthew and Acts stories contradict one

Judas Iscariot sells Jesus out to the authorities.

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Mark 14.41-46, Matthew 26.45-50, Luke 22.47-48, John 18.1-3. In St. John Paul’s list of stations of the cross, the second station combines Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and Jesus of Nazareth’s arrest. ’Cause they happened simultaneously—they, and Simon Peter slashing one of the head priest’s slaves. There’s a lot to unpack there, which is why I want to look at them separately. Getting betrayed and getting arrested, fr’instance: That’s two different kinds of suffering. Psychological and physical. So right after Jesus prayed in Gethsemane (the first station), this happened: Mark 14.41-46 KWL 41 Jesus came back a third time and told his students , “Now you’re sleeping, and resting— and that’s enough. The hour’s come. Look, the Son of Man is getting handed over to sinful hands. 42 Get up so we can go: Here comes the one who sold me out.” 43 Next, while Jesus was yet speaking, Judas Iscariot approached the Twelve. With him was a crowd carrying machetes and sticks,

Stations of the cross: Remembering Christ’s suffering.

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In Jerusalem, Israel, Christians remember Jesus’s death by actually going down the route he traveled the day he died. It’s called the Way of Jesus, the Way of Sorrows (Latin, Via Dolorosa ), or the Way of the Cross ( Via Cručis ). When I visited Jerusalem, it’s part of the tour package: Loads of us Christians go this route every single day, observing all the places Jesus is said to have suffered. Really solemn, moving stuff. But most of us Christians don’t live in or near Jerusalem, and some of us can’t possibly go there. For this reason St. Francis of Assisi invented “the stations of the cross.” In his church building, he set up seven different dioramas. Each represented an event which happened as Jesus was led to his death. The people of his church would go to each diorama—each station— and meditate on what Jesus did for us all. Yeah, this is a Catholic thing, ’cause Francis was Roman Catholic. But it’s not exclusively Catholic: Many Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists use

Jesus dies. And takes our sin with him.

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Mark 15.33-39, Matthew 27.45-54, Luke 23.44-48, John 19.28-37. Around noon on 3 April 33, it got dark, and stayed that way till Jesus died. Obviously God was behind it, but we don’t know how . No solar eclipses in that part of the world, that time of year, so that’s out. Volcanoes have been known to darken the sky. So has weather. Regardless of how he pulled it off, God decided he wanted his Son’s death to happen in the dark. As he was hanging on the cross, various folks were taunting him, and Matthew describes the head priests, scribes, and elders even taunting him with a bit of Psalm 22: Matthew 27.43 KWL He follows God? God has to rescue him now , if he wants him—for he said ‘I’m God’s son.’ ”   Psalm 22.8 LXX (KWL) He hopes for the Lord, who has to release him, who has to save him because he wants him. Considering this psalm was so obviously getting fulfilled by Jesus’s death, taunting him with it just showed how far the Judean leaders’ unbelief went. The

The crowd shouts for Barabbas.

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Mark 15.6-11, Matthew 27.15-21, Luke 23.17-25, John 18.39-40. We actually have nothing in the Roman records about this custom the Roman governors had of releasing a prisoner every Passover. Doesn’t mean they didn’t do it; just means they kept it off the books. Which is understandable. Fleshly people tend to think of mercy and forgiveness as weakness, not strength; of compassion and generosity as something that other people will take advantage of, not benevolence. “If you give a mouse a cookie” and all that. Anyway we have four historical records which indicate the Romans totally did free a prisoner every Passover : The gospels. Apparently Pontius Pilate had on hand an guy named Jesus bar Avvá, who’d been arrested during “the riot.” We don’t know which riot, and Christians like to speculate it was one of the more famous ones, but it had to have been fairly recent: Romans didn’t keep people in prison for long. They either held them for trial, flogged and released them, or cruc

The crowd shouts for crucifixion.

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Mark 15.8-14, Matthew 27.20-23, Luke 23.18-25, John 18.38-40. When Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect quickly realized Jesus was no insurrectionist. Jesus’s claim of being Judea’s king was no political threat to the Roman senate and emperor. Case dismissed. Except it wasn’t, because the Judean senators had somehow got a crowd together which was calling for Jesus’s death. And the easiest way to get Romans in a murdery mood is to disturb their peace. That’s the one thing Romans valued most: Social stability. Not actual peace, like Jesus gives us; just the appearance of peace, where nobody grumbles too loud, would do for them. And if they didn’t get it, they’d crucify everybody till they did. The head priests knew this, so of course they got a crowd together, and made sure they were good and noisy. Mark 15.8-14 KWL 8 Rising up, the crowd began to ask, as usual, for Pilatus to do for them. 9 In reply Pilatus told them, “You want me to free

Jesus confuses Pontius Pilate.

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Mark 15.1-5, Matthew 27.1-2, 11-14, Luke 23.1-4, John 18.28-38 So I already wrote about Pontius Pilate, the ἡγεμών / igemón , “ruler” of Judea when Jesus was killed, a præfectus , or “prefect,” a military governor, sent there by the Romans. After the Judean senate held their perfectly legal trial and sentenced Jesus to death, because of the Roman occupation they weren’t allowed to carry out that sentence themselves; the Romans had to execute Jesus for them. But first the Judean leaders had to convince Pontius it was in Rome’s best interests to execute Jesus. The prefect wasn’t just gonna execute anybody the Judean senate recommended. Especially over stuff the Romans didn’t consider capital crimes, like blasphemy against a god the Romans didn’t respect. So what’d the Judeans have on Jesus? Simple: He declared himself Messiah. Messiah (i.e. Christ) means “the anointed,” and since you only anointed kings, it straight-up means king . Jesus declared himself king. That, the Ro

Jesus’s crucifixion.

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Ever bang your funny bone? That’s the ulnar nerve. The equivalent in the leg is the tibial nerve. About 26 to 24 centuries ago, humans in the middle east figured out the most painful way to kill someone: Take four nails. Put one through each of these nerves. Then hang a victim, by these nails, from whatever—a wall, a tree, a pole, a cross. If you stretch out their limbs, it’ll squeeze their lungs. They’ll find it extremely hard to breathe. Can’t inhale unless they actually push themselves up by their pierced ankles, and pull themselves up by their pierced wrists. And each pull feels like they’ve taken these nerves and crushed them with a hammer, all over again. Leave ’em like that, to die slowly, by asphyxiation. It might take all day. Multiple days, if the person has a strong enough will to live. But they’ll die eventually, in agony. There’s no real way to stop the constant pain. It’s so intense, Latin-speakers had invented a new word to describe it: Excruciare , from which

“Suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

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In both the Nicene and Apostles Creed, a Roman governor gets mentioned by name—specifically so the creeds can cement Christ Jesus’s death at a specific point in history: Σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου / stavrothénta te ypér epí Pontíu Pilátu , “and he was crucified for us under Pontíus Pilátus.” This was the guy who ruled Jerusalem and Judea on behalf of Rome for a decade, from the years 26 to 36. The way Romans did names was family name ( nomen ) first, so in English he’d actually be Pilatus Pontius. But English-speakers just tend to call him by his cognomen , his nickname: Pilate. Pontius was the fifth governor of Judea. The reason we know so much more about him than his predecessors or successors, is obviously ’cause Jesus was executed under his rule. We know of him from the gospels, from Flavius Josephus, from Philo of Alexandria, and from Publius Cornelius Tacitus. The Pilate stone, on display in Jerusalem. Wikimedia Plus in 1961 archaeologist Antoni