Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

March 18, 2011 Comments Off on Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on His head. They put a reed in His right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put His own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:27-31

Today, the Stations of the Cross are so powerful because of their symbolism, but in Christ’s time His actions were anything but symbolic.  Taking up the cross was a path to certain, and certainly painful, death. Between the First Station, when Jesus is condemned to die by Pilate, and the Second, when He takes up the cross, Jesus is subjected to unspeakable beating and torture.  The Second Station documents the cruelty of the scorn and humiliations heaped upon him.  The physical weight of the cross itself must have been bone crushing (to say nothing of the metaphysical ‘burden’!).  Yet the Bible records not a single word of protest.  He allowed himself to be captured, knowing of the pain to come.

For me, the Second Station is the crux of Christ’s Passion.  The later stations seem far more poignant, but the Second Station conveys the essence of Christ’s love, His sacrifice.  Jesus accepted His suffering willingly.  He took up the cross—a then-universal mark of condemnation that He transformed into the symbol of salvation—willingly.  He led a phalanx of His enemies, and supporters, on the path to crucifixion at Calvary.  Willingly.   All of Christ’s teachings and lessons on how we should live that came before, everything that follows in the Passion after, are illuminated in this moment.

I can’t think about this station without thinking about Mark 8:34: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross, and follow Me.” It’s easy for me to read this passage in terms of my own struggles with surrendering, and submitting to God’s plans for me.  But I think it means more than that—not just accepting our trials or sufferings without complaint, but also wholly sublimating ourselves to God, and to following Jesus’ example, at every point in our life.  In fact, we pray for this each day in The Lord’s Prayer:  ‘Thy will be done.’  But for me, the aspirations of that daily prayer can butt up hard against my own daily willfulness.

Some days I am more willing than others to follow Christ’s example.

On my off days, I pray just for the willingness…

– Jack Murray


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