the way of the cross

“You see that cross and him who bled thereon! Stand still and look that way, and your burden shall fall from your shoulders. Where Jesus died, you shall live. Where Christ was wounded, you shall be healed.” C.H. Spurgeon

Katie and I climbed a mountain yesterday, and there was a seventy-foot cross at the top. The Via Crucis here in Carlos Paz is about a mile and a half long, a rocky trail rising a little more than 2000 feet.

The trail is marked by the traditional 14 stations of the cross. Since it’s Holy Week many devout Catholics were climbing, stopping and praying, along with lots of school kids and athletic types looking for adventure on a long weekend. The more devout collected stones at the bottom of the mountain and left one at each station. One woman was leaving a flower at each station as well.

Pilgrims on the traditional Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem likely spent some money to get there. This one only requires a little sweat. I’ve walked both, actually. The Via Dolorosa only has nine stations; it just gets you up the hill. But the 14 stations include the things that happen there.

Today, of course, many devout Catholics will be on both of them. And while I’m not Catholic, it’s good to meditate on the cross. Christ died for our sins. He did it this week. We ought to think about it.

Consider this traditional prayer for approaching each station:

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross,
you have redeemed the world.

That’s a thought that bears repeating. More than 14 times, actually.

I wasn’t counting, however. Ours was a gorgeous view on a glorious day: about 70 degrees with a light mountain breeze, overlooking a large lake at the bottom of the valley. It was breathtaking, and not just because of the climb.

But Christ’s own climb to Golgotha was nothing like that. Even when pilgrims climb a mountain on their knees, beating themselves with whips, they have done nothing like what Jesus did. He carried the weight of all our sins and the most zealous pilgrim can’t even carry his own.

The way of the cross is never about the walk, of course. It is about the work of the one who walked it first: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (I Peter 3:18). ”

There is no merit in walking it again. But there is joy in remembering, accepting and believing what happened there.

It’s Good Friday after all.

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