The Way of the Cross

This devotion guide was created by my friend Tracy Grubbs, Creative Arts Director at Lake Forest Church. I’m so proud of her and the weight that this project bears. because (from what our research shows) it’s the only Protestant “Stations of the Cross” guide taken straight from scripture in existence. Tracy’s mix of ancient text and contemporary prose make for a stunning, poetic blend that comes across gently…almost as a barely spoken whisper.

My hope is that you will make your own way through the images, scripture and prayers and be moved closer to your humanity; closer to the cross; closer to the heart of the One who suffered and died, just for you.

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THE WAY OF THE CROSS:
During the Turkish occupation of the Holy Land in the late Middle Ages, when pilgrims were prevented from visiting its sacred sites, the custom arose of making replicas of those holy places, where the faithful might come to pray. One of the most popular of these devotions was the “Stations of the Way of the Cross,” which were imitations of the “stations,” or stopping places of prayer on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. By the late sixteenth century the fourteen stations, as we know them today, were erected in almost all Catholic churches.

At each of the fourteen stations:

  • Read the Scripture, view the image, pray the accompanying written prayer aloud or silently.
  • Then meditate on the prayer and image, making the prayer your own. Either gently repeat the written prayer or pray your own life into the subject of that prayer,

A Preparatory Prayer – St. Francis:

Most merciful Lord, With a contrite heart and penitent spirit I bow down before Thy divine Majesty. I adore Thee as my supreme Lord and Master. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee above all things. I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, my only and supreme God. I firmly resolve to amend my life; and although I am unworthy to obtain mercy, yet looking upon Thy holy Cross, I am filled with peace and consolation. I will, therefore, meditate on Thy sufferings, and visit the Stations. O Loving Jesus, inflame my cold heart with Thy love, that I may live and die in union with Thee. Amen.

 i. Jesus prays in garden

Luke 22:39-44 Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Nevertheless, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.

PRAYER
“Father, please?”
Jesus prayed “Take this cup from me. If you will?”
Sadness in your furrowed face and sorrow in your eyes,
the smell of blood and streaming sweat,
Son of God and Son of Man wrestles with the will of the Father.
“Nevertheless, your will be done,”
“Nevertheless…”
Jesus, may we drink from our cup as you did from yours,
Trusting in the goodness of the Father even in our suffering. Amen 

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

ii. Jesus betrayed and arrested

Luke 22:47-53 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

PRAYER:
With swords and clubs, they came for You, Son of Man.
Soldiers, priests, religious ones, lead by a beloved friend.
With a kiss, betrayed. Unjustly accused.
And yet, you reject the sword and heal the wound.
Lay down the arms.
Jesus, may we forgive as you do, humbly and completely.
Following in your footsteps, walking in the way of Love. Amen.

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

iii. Jesus tried by Sanhedrin

Mark 14:53,55-56,60-64 They led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. The high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

PRAYER:
Christ, here you stand before your accusers,
Pummeled with allegations, with insinuations.
Angry words spoken by threatened, fearful men.
But you stand quietly.
No rush to refute their lies.
Letting the truth of who you are be the Answer they are looking for.
Jesus, may we follow in your example of softly,
yet boldly speaking truth in love.
Amen.

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

iv. Jesus denied by Peter

Mark 14:66-72 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

PRAYER:
“I will never”
“I will always”
Swearing allegiance unto death.
Peter, impulsive master of misunderstanding
In the dark of night, he disowns, rejects, denies.
As do we, day in and day out.
We are all Peter.
Wanting desperately to follow You but failing,
dismissing you instead.
But morning comes and with the rising of the sun,
You offer forgiveness and redemption.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

v. Jesus tried by Pilate

Mark 15: 1-5, 15 The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed…. Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

PRAYER: 
“Behold your king,” says Pilate.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the people shout, “Away with him.”
And they sent you to your death.
Lord Jesus, Word made flesh, Light for our dark world,
God come to save us, may we never send you away.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

vi. Jesus beaten and scourged

John 19:1-3; Luke 22:63-64 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”

PRAYER:
“He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised,
and we held him in low esteem.”
In thorny crown and purple robe Son of God and Son of Man.
Bearing my shame in the presence of scoffers.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities”
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

vii. Jesus carries the cross

John 19:17-18 So they took Jesus and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

PRAYER:
You were led to Golgotha, Lord,
bearing the cross alone.
Step by agonizing step you walked with the cross and its crushing load,
“Take up your cross,” the Savior says,
“If you would my disciple be;
Forsake the past and come this day,
And humbly follow after me.”
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world

viii. Jesus helped by Simon

Luke 23:26 As they led Jesus away, they grabbed Simon, a man from Cyrene, who was coming in from the countryside. They put the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.

PRAYER: 
Simon, coming in from the fields, was forced to carry your cross.
He had no choice in this; it was his lot.
“Why is this happening to me?”
“I’m not ready for this.”
“I can’t.”
Were these his thoughts? Are these my thoughts?
Lord, when you ask me to pick up the cross and follow you, Am I willing?
Will I walk that way with you?
Give me a willing heart to follow.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

ix. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27-29 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

PRAYER:
O God, may we weep with those who weep.
May we mourn with those who mourn.
In a cynical and despairing world
give us an honest voice to convey your hope.
In a violent and angry world
give us a gentle voice to speak your peace.
In a grieving and weeping world
give us a willing voice to proclaim your joy.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world

x. Jesus nailed to the cross

Mark 15:22,26-27,31; Luke 23:34 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha… And they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him… In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

PRAYER:
O dying Christ, I hear You speak.
Your body hangs, so pale and weak,
Yet love is strong
And still aware.
Your heart is planning for another’s care.
Tormented Christ, I hear You pray
The words that only love can say:
“Father, forgive!” What selfless prayer!
Your thoughts are mercy as You suffer there!
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

xi. Jesus promises the kingdom to the thief

Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

PRAYER: 
I looked in Your eyes and saw it for a moment
the passion in Your cry;
the chains of death are broken
Put to death by Your people
You came to bring us life
the only hope for the hopeless
Will You remember me?
I’ve been ashamed
I’ve been put down
Head in my hands, My life on the ground
Left heaven to save sinners like me
Liars and thieves; Your blood sets us free
Who am I that You would remember me?
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world

xii. Jesus talks to his mother and John

John 19:25-27 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

PRAYER: 
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
“for he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world

xiii. Jesus dies on the cross

Mark 15:33-37 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

PRAYER: 
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”
You did undertake for me, for me to death were sold;
Wisdom in a mystery of dying love unfold;
Teach the lesson of your cross, let me die with you to reign;
All things let me count but loss, that you, I may regain.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world

xiv. Jesus laid in the tomb

Luke 23:50-56 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

PRAYER:
The tomb is barren, empty.
It has been prepared for the day when Joseph himself would die.
It was to be his burial chamber.
A thought strikes Joseph so violently that he stops in his steps.
Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. And now he is dead.
Joseph knew God couldn’t die. Impossible.
And yet, here was his body, laid in Joseph’s tomb,
on the slab that was to have held Joseph’s body.
Now, forever, Jesus would be there in Joseph’s place.
Jesus, I surrender my tomb to you.
Come and lie on the burial site that was meant for me.
I surrender my tomb to you.
I surrender all my efforts to please you in my own strength to you.
Be my death for me, Jesus.
Swallow up my death in your death,
so that I can be resurrected in your resurrection.
Amen

We adore You, O Christ and we praise you.
Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

About the Artist:

Melody Hogan’s series of artwork for the “Stations of the Cross” reflects her love of graphic design and simplified shapes and forms. Her abstractions serve as connection points that invite hearts to earnestly engage in the sacred and solemn observance of Holy Week as if they were hazy memories experienced personally by the viewer.

The materials of reclaimed cardboard, rusted metal and pastel chalk were chosen to represent the earthly, deteriorating nature of our lives as human beings. These mundane materials also highlight the mystery of the incarnation of God: Fully God in all His glory choosing to be Fully Man, subjected to the constraints of a broken and fallen world.

This body of work is intended to offer us a unique opportunity to not only witness but share in the Passions of the Christ (the pain and suffering of the Anointed One). It also serves as a fitting reminder of this verse in Matthew:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

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