For centuries, earnest believers have observed the “Stations of the Cross,” or the Via Dolorosa (“The Way of Sorrow”), as a devotional exercise to reflect on the importance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Early believers sought to remember the moments of the passion week more fully by setting up trails with guided stops along the way to remind believers of various events leading up to the crucifixion.
We’ve set up a collection of displays to help you remember some of these historical events and to lead you to worship God for the amazing sacrifice He made on our behalf. This is not a traditional rendering of the Stations of the Cross, but a fresh take on an ancient practice to help modern believers prepare themselves to remember and embrace the Passion story more fully.
This experience is between you and God. Before you begin, take a deep breath, pause, and ask God to help you enter a time of earnest reflection and prayer. Ask Him to open your mind and heart to whatever He has for you today and pray that He might help you more fully understand and appreciate the events of good Friday.
As you reflect, begin to think about this man, Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Redeemer – fully man, yet fully God. Philippians two says, “He emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant.” A fuller understanding of the sober events of Good Friday will lay the foundation for an even greater celebration on Easter.
Inside, you’ll find eight areas/stations displaying items associated with the events surrounding the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. Feel free to walk up and look at each item. If you wish, you may touch, pick up, or even smell any of the items. Use this guide to reflect on each element’s relevance to the story of Good Friday and how its truth can impact your life today.
Before you begin, take a moment, and think about what it means to draw near to God.
In Old Testament times, God used the tabernacle to teach the people how to approach Him, a Holy God. The priests were completely washed and consecrated to God only once, but every day when they approach God, they were required to wash their hands in the laver of the courtyard of the tabernacle before they came before Him.
Now, in our New Testament times, we too are completely washed once and consecrated to God, by Jesus’ sacrifice. That is our salvation, something He alone can do for us. But then every day, we can come to Him symbolically, just like the priesthood, washing our hands as an act of cleansing and fellowship.
What a beautiful picture. Take this time to wash your hands at the washing stations provided. As you do, draw near to God and allow Him to wash away the cares, worries, and distractions of the day. Hebrews 10:22a says, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith…”
God has something just for you this Good Friday. Open your eyes, your heart, and let Him speak. And talk to Him because He wants to hear from you, too.
The Last Supper
“And on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrifice the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, ‘Where will you have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?’ And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, “the Teacher says, where is My guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.’ And the disciple set out and went to the city and found just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.” Mark 14:12-13, 15
“When He had wash their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, ‘do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I die then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.’” John 13:12-15
Jesus knew this Passover dinner would be the last time He met with all His disciples gathered. The dinner typically involves cedar bread, unleavened to commemorate the Israelites hasty departure from Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:3); roasted lamb, signifying the Passover lamb that was slain and whose blood marked the threshold of Jewish homes (Exodus 12:21–24); and bitter herbs, used to prepare the meal (and to remind the Israelites of the bitterness of slavery from which God had rescued them.)
More than a mere meal, Jesus turned this Passover into something more. He used it as an occasion to show His followers the “full extent of His love.” After everyone had eaten, Jesus got up from the table and gathered the tools of a lowly servant. He wrapped a towel around his waist, and with water held in a servant’s bowl, began washing the feet of His disciples. In doing this, Jesus marked.
Now, taste the hastily prepared Seder bread to remind you of how God provides for your needs, even in times of crisis. Touch the lamb bone; imagine having to hold the head of the lamb still while a priest sacrificed that animal to atone for you and your family sins. Think about how the bitterness of the herbs can remind you of your slavery to sin.
Look at the bowl and the towel; feel free to pick them up. The disciples must’ve been thinking, “What in the world is Jesus doing?” Through the celebration of the Passover, Jesus reminded His disciples of God’s past salvation: God delivered Israel from slavery by the blood of the lamb. But even more, by instituting the Lord’s Supper at the same feast (which we now celebrate during our normal church services), Jesus pointed towards a future salvation, a better and final salvation. Jesus became our “Passover Lamb” by absorbing the wrath of His father at the cross as our substitute. Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He, and He alone, has provided for all our needs - physical and spiritual.
Father, thank you so much for so excellently taking care of all my needs. You have provided bread for my journey; a sacrificial lamb for my forgiveness; and release from the bitterness of my sins. Thank you most of all for providing a Passover lamb in Your Son, Jesus.
“And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray saying ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup for Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.’ Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground.” Luke 22:39-44
In the garden, the full scope of His mission had become readily apparent, and Jesus knew that once He left the garden what lie ahead: the treacherous betrayal by one of His own (Judas); being derided and made sport of by soldiers; a circus trail in which guilty politicians proclaimed judgment on an innocent man; brutal beatings; and then, the cross – the bearing of yours and my sin. Yet even His closest friends and followers couldn’t stay awake long enough to pray.
Jesus said that His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow. Three times He prayed that His Father would take the cup of suffering (the cross and God’s wrath) from Him, but yet more than that, He desired to accomplish God‘s will. Can you imagine that kind of praying?
Without a doubt, this was the most terrible of missions ever given to an individual. As you gaze on the serene garden scene, consider the anguish Jesus must’ve felt; the mental strain as He tried to grapple with his Father’s will: “Are You sure this is what You want Me to do?”
Take your time to pray while sitting in the garden. Allow your thoughts to center on Jesus and His most holy moment. Remember that His anguish was so great that His sweat became like drops of blood. But His despair changed to courage, pivoting on one word – nevertheless. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
Having considered Christ’s obedience, reflect about your own life mission. Is God calling you to do something you naturally want to resist, but His persistent voice is calling you forward? Following God’s will often requires substantial sacrifice. Is there a sacrifice God is asking you to make, perhaps on behalf of your family, for the sake of a friend, or to serve your church? Let our Lord’s example guide you to a new commitment to be faithful and obedient to your mission regardless of the cost.
Lord, thank You for accepting Your mission; now I pray that You will grant me a willing heart to accept mine. I can be so mindful and even resentful of the sacrifices required to love my family, serving my vocation, be a part of Your family and church that I forget the glory of Your prayer, “not My will, but Yours be done.” Lord, today, let this be my prayer also.
30 Pieces of Silver
“I said to them, if it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So, they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So, I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord” Zechariah 11:12-13
“Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priest and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray him to you?’ and they weighed out 30 pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.” Matthew 26:14-16
Thirty pieces of silver was all it took, and Judas traded away the Savior of the World, the Holy Son of God, the promised Messiah.
Just thirty pieces of silver. Not much. In Old Testament times, thirty pieces of silver was the value of a slave accidentally gored to death by an ox (Exodus 21:32). Thirty pieces of silver was all the people were willing to pay Zechariah for his prophetic message. This amount given to Zechariah is an intentional insult for the rejected shepherd, who is a pre-figure of the Messiah. In a prophetic fulfillment that occurred centuries later, that same sum of thirty pieces of silver was all it took for Judas to agree to handover Jesus to the Pharisees. Such a paltry sum speaks of how lowly Jesus was viewed not only by Judas, but also by the chief priests. Basically, Jesus was sold for the price of a dead slave.
Pick up the coins. Take a moment and ponder what value you place on your relationship with Christ. How much is Jesus worth to you?
What have you been willing to “trade” your faith for this past year? Did you trade your witness for social acceptance? Have you given away your time and treasure to pursue personal ambition, an inappropriate relationship, or a habitual sin rather than seeking first His kingdom? Whatever trade you’re making, it’s not worth it.
How highly do you value your salvation in relationship with Jesus? Spend some time asking God to reveal your “cheap trades,” and then ask for His forgiveness. Follow up by asking Him to give you a heart that values Jesus above all else.
Lord Jesus, You declared that the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure hidden in a field - with Joy a man sold all he had to buy that field. You are my treasure. Forgive me for the times I have treated my faith so cheaply for things that are of no eternal value. I desire to value You above all else, the treasure the faith You’ve made possible, and to give all I have, to be a member and servant of your Kingdom.
“The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered him, ‘I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?’ Annas then sent him down to Caiaphas the high priest.” John 18:19–24
“But the chief priest stirred up the crowd to have him (Pilate) release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with the man you call the king of the Jews?’ And they cried out again, ‘crucify him.’ And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ That they shouted all the more, ‘crucify him.’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” Matthew 27:20 – 26
One innocent man. Six trials. Jesus was tried three times before the Jewish authorities and three times before Roman authorities. Look at the steps before you. Each step represents the judgment of the religious authorities and the secular authorities. The religious leaders essentially said, “We will lie so this man can die.” The Roman authorities responded, “We’ll play along with your lies and let this man die.”
The six trials showcase two truths: Jesus was utterly, perfectly, and completely innocent. This was essential to emphasize, six times, that Jesus died not for His own sins – there were none - but for ours. The Roman authorities confirmed Jesus’ innocence but played along to win favor with the crowd. Jesus endured the shame of a false sentence to win us back to our heavenly father.
Jesus walked, hands-down, from one trial to the next. He never defended Himself, but each step took Him closer to the cruel death sentence He was to experience. But also remember that as each step brought pain and wrong accusations, each step brought Jesus closer to doing the will of the Father. Jesus knew that these steps were necessary to glorify God.
Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Is anything more painful than that? You can’t wait to state your case and clear your name, and if others still don’t believe you, it’s excruciating. Now, imagine you had never sinned, that it wasn’t even in your nature to sin, yet you are not only accused, but condemned of an act so heinous the sentence is death.
Jesus accepted the shame because He was more concerned about completing His Father’s will and winning our salvation than He was about His own comfort. As we think our Lord for this noble sacrifice, let us also remember that as our Lord was treated, so we will be as well. Jesus told His disciples, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
So, as you live this life you’ve been called to live, how do your steps in front of you look? Along the pathway of life, you will speak the truth in love; some will perceive it as hatred or intolerance. You will refuse to go along; some will respond by accusing you of being full of yourself. You will do what you know to be best, and some will receive it as an act of betrayal, indifference, or insensitivity. Yet you are still called to do what we know to be right, even if others don’t see it that way. As our Lord died, so we must live. Our steps are to bring glory to our God.
Lord, forgive us for demanding better treatment from others than Your Son received! We are grateful that there wasn’t a single legitimate charge against Your Son; we are thankful that He was willing to be lied about so that we could one day know the truth. Help us to stand and walk each day for that truth as Jesus did - with courage and integrity. And may each of our steps bring glory to You. In Jesus name, amen.
Instruments of Suffering
“They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.” John 19:17
“He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
“And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and a reed in His right hand and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him saying, ‘hell, king of the Jews!’” Matthew 27:29
Traditionally, the Roman soldiers attached criminals to crosses with ropes; so, using spikes was an added instance of cruelty. Sitting a crown of thorns – sharp enough and strong enough to dig beneath the skin - onto Jesus’ head was a further act of hateful malice, completely unnecessary and without precedent. The cross, common pieces of wood, once drenched with rain, perhaps even gnawed at by insects or animals, would soon absorb the sweat and blood of our Lord as He was crucified. All were used to further the suffering of Jesus and to crucify this “criminal.”
By so spacing out His wounds, there was no spot on Jesus’ body that wasn’t racked by pain. And the mocking by the soldiers as they spat upon Jesus and ridiculed Him in front of the crowds add an emotional pain to the already excruciating physical pain.
Despite all of this, Jesus spoke the words He so often taught, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!”
Touch the wood. Imagine such a rough surface jammed against your back. From the time He began carrying the cross He knew that every step took Him closer to the horrors of Golgotha. But He kept walking.
Pick up the spike and mallet. Imagine being the one that drove in the nails. The mallet provided the force, and the spike provided the edge. Together, they cut through skin and slice through nerve endings. Jesus felt the pain. There was no anesthesia, no painkillers, nothing to lessen the sheer agony of these cruel instruments of torture.
Touch the crown of thorns; consider the insult it represented to Jesus’ rightful authority, and the way it was forced onto His body must’ve sent pain from the top of Jesus’ head to the bottom of His pierced feet.
Oh, what love, what grace, and what forgiveness He provided to us.
Father, Your love overwhelms me. I cannot truly imagine the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that Jesus suffered. Yet, I know Father, that a sacrifice had to be made to redeem me. Thank You for giving Your Son, Jesus, for me to be made right with You. May the thoughts and remembrances I have this day linger in my mind and heart as I leave this place. May I recall what my salvation cost Your Son. May my life reflect Your Son by having a heart that quickly forgives others.”
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn into from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50-51
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience in our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:9-22
The “veil of the temple” refers to the inner curtain of the “Holy of Holies,” which resided in the center of the Old Testament temple of worship. The curtain severely restricted access to God to only a privileged few.
Something incredible happened the moment Jesus died. His frayed flesh opened a new and living way to God. The curtain barrier was taken away, ripped from top to bottom. We are given a clear picture of Jesus’ death opening access for us, sinful man, to our most Heavenly Father.
Now, the gates to God’s presence are open wide to all who enter through the cross of Jesus Christ. God himself tore the curtain in two, proclaiming that in Jesus’ death, the final sacrifice has been made for our sins.
Walk through the curtain and celebrate your access to God, won for you through the obedience, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We, who were alienated from God, even under his wrath, have been brought near, cleansed, forgiven, and granted complete and full access into God’s favor and presence. God has given us access to Him, the Holy One, by making us holy. Rejoice in this amazing truth!
Heavenly Father, thank You for receiving the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on my behalf, for tearing away the veil that kept me from You, and for granting me access to enter Your holy presence. May I fully grasp Your forgiveness and mercy this Easter season. As I prepare to approach the cross on which, solely, my access is granted, may I have the confidence in full assurance to enter Your presence.
Oil & Spice
“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’” John 12:3-5
“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus…asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen and cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.”
The amount of spices brought to embalm Jesus is generous and abundant - on par with royal burials. This was a lavish display of affection and respect for Jesus. Though we have already seen how Jesus was maliciously and cruelly treated before and during His crucifixion, after His death, His body was cared for in a royal fashion, pointing toward His role as our king.
The spices gathered here are ones that played a significant role in the events of passion week. Spikenard, a rare and costly fragrant oil, was used by Mary of Bethany to anoint the head and feet of the Messiah, as recorded in John 12:3. Spikenard speaks of the bride’s extravagant adoration of and intimacy with the bride groom, in total abandonment, without regard to cost.
Myrrh, an exotic Biblical spice, was used in purification and beautification rights, in the formula for the holy anointing oil, and in burial spices.
Hyssop is a low growing evergreen, cultivated for its flower tops, from which the fragrance is extracted. It symbolizes spiritual cleansing by the refining fire of the Holy Spirit: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7
In temple days, sweet incense containing frankincense was placed on the Inner Altar of the Tabernacle and burned morning and evening. It speaks of intercession.
If we are honest, we must admit we don’t always bring Jesus our best. We give leftover time, a few dollars that don’t impact our lifestyle, and a heart that is present but not passionate.
As you hold the grave-cloths and smell the sense of the various spices, remember the price Jesus paid, and the price paid by those who buried Him so honorably. Shouldn’t we lavish our love on One who has loved us so generously Himself? In fact, with all the gifts you can give to God, one that He holds most precious is your heart, your personal devotion. Psalm 141:2 likens our prayers to “incense”. Why not surrender your heart afresh in a prayer of praise and devotion, a sacrifice “pleasing to the Lord?”
Jesus, I want to be among those who honor You. I want to give the gift that means most to You – my heart, soul, and body. Help me hold nothing back. You are a worthy King, completely deserving of my total dedication. As a fragrant offering, as best I know how, I surrender my all to You – just as You surrendered Your all for me.
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the Grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:20–21
Because He died, we can live. Because He obeyed, we can be forgiven. Because He was condemned, we can be saved.
Following Jesus is not about better, faster, stronger, higher. It is about recognizing our helplessness, admitting our guilt, and receiving His sacrifice on our behalf. Everything depends on the crucifixion and resurrection. Everything. That means nothing is left to depend on us. Grace is something we receive, not something we earned. We do not come to the cross as worthy people and promising to do better; rather, we come as desperate beggars, acknowledging our need, and seeking God‘s empowering grace.
Herein lies the tremendous hope: since nothing depends on us, since everything depends on God, victory is certain! We have an ironclad guarantee of forgiveness, grace, and eternal life, if only we will receive Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
As we surrender to Him we find ourselves led to a better, more fulfilling life. Jesus showed us that things are upside down in His kingdom: the first are last - the greatest are servants – we give and find that we’re receiving.
Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily. What does that look like in your life? What self-directed activities and personal preoccupations are keeping you from living fully for Him? What sins are keeping you from experiencing the fullness of Christ in your life?
Using the paper and pens that are provided, write down those sins that seem to stick to you like glue. Also, write down those memories that just won’t seem to go away, that come back mentally to condemn you. Then take your paper, nail it to the cross, and hear Jesus say, “it is finished.”
Father, You sent Your Son to shoulder my cross, and I think You for rescuing me through His sacrifice. Because of Your forgiveness and mercy, I will never be separated from Your love. Help me die to the things I think will satisfy me but won’t. Teach me to rely on You alone. Help me let go of my need to be seen, to be valued, to have people like me. I am willing to accept the cost of following You, and I gratefully declare that I too “have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20