Barbara Francis

Prayer Page

March. 2016

Fourteen Stations of the Cross
“Remember how much I love you.”

Setting the Stage:

For our Prayer Page this month, let’s prayerfully examine the 14 “Stations of the Cross,” a series of artistic images—paintings, sculptures, or stained glass windows—traditionally arranged in churches to depict the painful journey of Jesus from Jerusalem to Calvary on the day of his crucifixion. The object of the stations is to help the Christian make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation and sharing of the Passion of Christ. The stations in this Prayer Page may be a bit different from others you’re familiar with. They are based on a series of exquisite sculptures by artist Gib Singleton which my church was privileged to have on display for Easter one year recently. Although I’m not able to include photos of those sculptures, I hope the scriptural background for each will set the stage for you as you encounter Christ personally in humble adoration.

Choose a quiet time and place for this exercise where you can be focused and unrushed. Read each passage of Scripture and envision the scene. Imagine that you are actually present, a close eye witness. Consider all that Jesus was feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Most importantly, imagine Jesus whispering to you in the midst of each difficult moment, “Remember how much I love you.” When you are ready, pray the suggested prayer to him, always concluding with, “I remember how much you love me.”

For many of us, this will be the longest we’ve ever spent meditating on Jesus’s suffering and death. May it be a holy and meaningful experience. “The Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:14, 16). Nails did not keep our Lord on the cross. Love did.

Station 1: Judgment—Luke 23:18-24
Envy and anger ruled the hearts of the religious leaders, blinding them to who Jesus was. They ordered the killing of the One who breathed life into their beings.
Pray: “God, keep my heart soft so I will always recognize your presence in my life. I remember how much you love me.

Station 2: Behold Your King—John 19:12-16
No one on this dark day beheld Jesus as King; otherwise they would not have killed him. But he came to die. His death was for us.
Pray: “Jesus, today I do acknowledge you as King of my life. See if there be any place in my heart where I have not crowned you as King. I remember how much you love me.

Station 3: Wine Colored Robe—Matthew 27:27-31
Jesus’s robe was soaked in his own blood.
Pray: “Jesus, I can barely read the accounts of your beatings and mockings! It is as if all the hatred Satan has for me was unleashed on you, the innocent One. You took the blows I deserved, Jesus. I remember how much you love me.

Station 4: Blessed Mother—John 19:25-27
Mary, Jesus’s mother, was the first to hear the glorious news that Messiah was finally coming. Not so many years later, she stood and watched as her son was mocked, beaten, and hung on a cross. Imagine how her heart must have broken.
Pray: “My heart breaks, Jesus, as I realize that you endured all of this simply because you loved the human race. I remember how much you love me.

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene—Luke 23:26
What did Simon think when he was forced to carry a cross? Did he even know who Jesus was? Did he ask any questions when his job was finished?
Pray: “Jesus, I pray for the people in my life who do not know who you are. Please reveal yourself to them so they too can experience how much you love them.  I remember how much you love me.

Station 6: Veronica’s Vision—no exact Biblical reference
Veronica is the name traditionally given to one of the unnamed women of Luke 23:27, who mourned and lamented as Jesus was driven pitilessly to Calvary.
Pray: “There were some who wept at your treatment, Jesus. I hope I would have been one of them. Please give me the gift of tears so I may enter into your sorrow.  I remember how much you love me.

Station 7: Fallen Lamb—no exact Biblical reference
John 19:17 tells us Jesus was made to carry his own cross for part of the distance. Imagine him stumbling and falling under the weight of the timber in his severely beaten, weakened condition.
Pray: “Oh, Lamb of God, you actually came for this very hour. You came to die. You took my sin on your sinless soul. You took the fall for me. I remember how much you love me.

Station 8: Daughters, Do Not Weep for Me—Luke 23:28-31
Even in his immense suffering, Jesus took a moment on the way to the cross to speak to the women who cared about him and to warn them of difficult days ahead.
Pray: “Jesus, I cannot help but weep when I recall that you endured all this horror so I could be with you forever. You wanted me that much.  I remember how much you love me.

Station 9: My Soul Weeps for Sorrow—Isaiah 53:3-6
The sorrowful suffering of Messiah was predicted by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus fulfilled the prophecy to the letter: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Pray: “Jesus, your life and ministry were all for love. The gifts you gave are sterling: healing, forgiveness, restoration—and your very life, given up for me. I am at a loss for words. I can only humble myself before my weeping and sorrowful Savior. I remember how much you love me.

Station 10: Scourging—John 19:1
The cruelty of a Roman scourging is nearly impossible to grasp, yet Jesus willingly endured it all—for us.
Pray: “Jesus, the whips should have been on my back. I am the one with sin, yet you took my lashing—the pain I deserved—for me. I am beyond humbled. I remember how much you love me.

Station 11: Be Forsaken—Psalm 22:1-2; Matthew 26:14-16, 56, 69-75; Matthew 27:46
Jesus was betrayed, denied, and forsaken, even by his best friends. Far more devastating, his Father in heaven had to look away.
Pray: “Jesus, Trinity oneness was broken as you took my sin on yourself. I cannot even imagine how painful, devastating that was for you. Once again, I weep in grief and gratitude. I remember how much you love me.

Station 12: Crucifixion—John 19:16-37
The horror of a crucifixion!
Pray: “Oh, my Jesus. Nails hammered into your hands and feet. Barely able to talk, breathe. A spear thrust into your side. Hearing is the last sense to go before death, and all you heard were jeers and mocking. Hear me now say, from the bottom of my heart, ‘Thank you, dearest One.’ I remember how much you love me.

Station 13: Pieta—Matthew 27:57-61
Pieta means “pity” in Italian. Although there is no specific biblical mention of Mary’s holding her dead son’s body, she most certainly could have done so before Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus in the tomb. This poignant image is one that has moved people’s hearts worldwide for centuries. We, as the disciples did, have a hard time comprehending the resurrection to come. For them—and for us who love Jesus—it was the worst day of their lives.
Pray: “Surely your mother was holding you, her beloved son, in her heart on that dark day. I too behold the lifeless Christ and am overcome with tears and grief. I remember how much you love me.

Station 14: Entombed—Luke 23:50-54
Entombed, indeed. But not for long. We know the end of this story. A victorious, glorious, miraculous end!
Pray: “You are alive, Jesus! Death and Satan could not hold you. You are the Savior of the World. You are my Savior. You have changed my very reason for living—because you are alive! I remember how much you love me!

Barbara Francis


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