November 26, 2020

Stations of the Cross: The Second Station

A Series for Holy Week.
Thanks to Jeff Dunn for leading us in these meditations.

Jesus carries his cross


So they took Jesus and led him away. Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went to the place called Skull Hill (in Hebrew, Golgotha).

John 19:17, NLT

At this time in history, crucifixion was the preferred manner of execution by the Romans for criminals, runaway or disobedient slaves, political enemies, traitors, pirates, and rebels. Roman citizens in good standing were rarely subjected to the humility of the cross. If their crimes were sufficient to warrant capital punishment, they were killed honorably, usually through beheading. Crucifixion was torturous and humiliating. Sometimes the condemned was impaled on the end of a long pole, which was then stuck in the ground. Some were affixed to a single vertical post—hands, feet and genitals nailed to the wood so that the accused would slowly die from loss of blood and organ failure. Others were executed on dual posts—one vertical, the other horizontal: cross beams. Whatever the method used, crucifixion was a slow, painful, shameful way to die.

When the Romans chose to use cross beams, the condemned was typically tortured with a whip first, resulting in a great loss of blood which would put the body into shock. Then he was forced to carry the horizontal beam on his shoulders to the place of crucifixion. This beam weighed anywhere from 75 to 125 pounds and, compounded with the loss of blood and loss of strength, would cause the man to weave and stagger under the load, adding to his humility and shame. Many did not make it to their spot of execution, needing someone in the crowd to help them carry their cross. The gathered crowd would jeer and taunt the condemned as weak and unmanly. The cross was not easy to carry.  Blood and sweat is draining Jesus of his strength, of his ability to struggle with his burden. Jesus is looking less and less like the Son of God, like our savior. He cannot even save himself from the death that waits at the top of the hill.

Jesus told those gathered to listen to him, “If you want to be my follower, you need to pick up your cross and come with me.” Can you see Jesus carrying his cross up that horrible, lonely hill? Can you follow, shouldering your cross, walking to your death? None of us can, not even on our best days, follow Jesus in our own strength. Take this time to confess to Jesus your own selfishness, your desire to avoid pain and suffering. Ask the Holy Spirit to be strength when you are weak.

Holy Spirit, I cannot walk up the hill to my death as Jesus did to his. I do not have the strength to do so. But I know that the weight upon Jesus’ shoulders included my weight, my sins, my weakness and inadequacy. Remind me that Jesus carried me up Skull Hill. Remind me that Jesus promises that when I come to him, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Thank you, Holy Spirit, that I do not have to make this journey alone.

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


  1. Amen.