November 26, 2020

Stations of the Cross: The Third Station

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

Jesus falls the first time


The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again.

Then they led him away to be crucified.

Mark 15: 16-20, NLT

Jesus is beyond the point of exhaustion. Before his arrest as he prayed in Gethsemane with his disciples he said his soul was “crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38 NLT). He was in such despair that “his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44 NLT). Then he suffered through a sham trial, standing mute as false accusations lead to a death sentence. And before he is led away to the hill where he will be crucified, the sadistic soldiers get their jollies by torturing him even further.

It is amazing that Jesus could stay alive long enough to reach the place of execution. Tradition has it that as he was forced to pick up the heavy cross, he stumbled and fell. No doubt he suffered a volley of verbal abuse at this as well. This first fall of his was from the sheer physical brutality he suffered—suffered for us. He knows what those who are physically abused by an angry spouse go through. He feels the pain of slaves forced into brutal labor until they die. He relates to those in third-world prisons who are tortured just to amuse their captors. Jesus stumbled and fell so that all who are victims of physical violence can stand. The Son of Man felt the whole physicality of suffering as he walked, and fell, to his death.

We know very little of daily physical abuse and torture in our nation. But it exists just beyond our borders. In some cases, only yards away. The drug cartels in Mexico are waging a fierce battle to gain the souls of men and women through their campaign of horrific violence. We must pray for those who are suffering violence in Mexico and other nations around the world. And we must pray for those who are committing the senseless acts of violence. There are also ways to stand against torture and violence. Voice of the Martyrs and the International Justice Mission are just two organizations that stand with those who suffer violence needlessly. They are good sources of information to make your prayers and other efforts more focused.

Jesus, the physical abuse you withstood is incomprehensible to us in this country. We feel we are victims when someone bumps us from behind at the ballgame and causes us to spill our drink. We really have very little idea of the kidnapping, rape, torture and hideous murders taking place only a few hundred yards across our border. We can only relate in the roughest manner to our brothers and sisters who are held in prisons because of their faith in you. Help us, Jesus, to pray for these true victims of violence. And help us to pray with just as much love and compassion for their torturers. Jesus, thank you for bearing this brutality to the fullest extent. Thank you that when you stumbled, you got up so that you could finish your course—a course that led to more falls and to a torturous death. Jesus, this does make sense to us, but we are so, so thankful that you loved us so much that you bore ultimate pain so that we might live.

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


  1. Again – thank you for these posts. Very fitting for this time of year particulary….

    – A side note I find most intriguing is that how many believe Jesus actually sweated blood. Catholics and all sorts have many paintings and pictures etc showing a blood literally coming out….

    However, just like the 3 ‘wise men’, the following of the star, the dove descending, the wind in the upper room etc……. the Bible doesn’t say that! 🙂

    • Flatrocker says

      Assuming that Jeff Dunn stays on script through the remaining stations, it is with an ever increasing sense of weariness from your posts that I await your comments concerning the 6th station – ugh.

      These are beautiful and thoughtful. Thank you for this Holy Week gift.

      • Oh, we are staying on script all right. Station six is written by Lisa Dye, an incredibly gifted writer with a heart that pants after God. And yes, I guarantee Matthew will have something to say about “Veronica.” Weariness awaits us all…

    • Matthew, I believe that the sweating blood is scriptural, (Luke 22:44) and the medical name for the condition is hematidrosis.

  2. So can anyof you who so happily mock what I have put forth here show me that what is said is incorrect aka unbiblical?!

    Anna A – frankly what you think does not matter, nor what I think matters…but rather what does the Bible say?

    FYI – its says “like” – figurative.

    • Flatrocker says

      Where we stand defines where we are willing to fall.

      Luke 22:19
      FYI – it says “is” – literal.

      • Flatrocker –

        Luke 22:19 speaks about the Lord’s Supper and His body that was given for us.

        “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

        However, I believe you were referring to verse 44 of Luke Chapter 22……

        The NIV says “like” – The NLT says “like” – The NASB says “like”
        – The ISV says “like” and you know what?…………………………….

        The Greek says “like” – ōsei is the word used there.

        • Matthew, I simply stand amazed at your propensity and ability to strain out gnats and swallow camels. One day, you may become a headliner in the evangelical circus!

          • Again, is what I say here true?

            You know that we have more of a ‘Hallmark Christmas Card Thoelogy’ than we realize Mike?

            I dont want to teach my children, nor anyone for that matter – that 3 Wise men on Camels came to see Jesus by following a star, or that an actaul dove descended upon Jesus at His baptism, or that He actually sweated blood – when the Bible says NONE of that happened…..

            Sure, these are but MINOR things but still enough for me to try and righlty divide the word of truth.

            Thanks for your willingness to slander me and have others do so, without you raisng an eyebrow or ‘warning’ others as you do with me.

            Birds of a feather flock together don’t they Mike……..

            • Matthew: How do you know I haven’t warned others?

              I just always find it interesting, when an author posts something with a very clear theme and weighty subject, that often some commenter will pick out the smallest tidbit and lead the discussion astray down a rabbit trail that is not really all that consequential.

  3. Matthew, in this particular case, I think you are correct about the blood/sweat thing. I think the passage indicates that he was sweating profusely. His sweat was flowing, the way blood flows, is my take on it. It is possible, in some cases, that people can sweat in a way that it is tinged with blood, though. Either way, I don’t think it particularly matters what we believe in this matter. What matters is that in spite of the anguish that Jesus felt, he lived the life and died the death that he did. He conquered evil and death and threw open the gates of heaven for us.

  4. there is plenty of abuse, torture, etc etc etc going on within our own borders – to the weak vessels with no voice. As a former children’s services worker, I know plenty of stories, but it is not just the children in this country that are subjected to such terrible treatment. We are fortunate however, that our government does not actually sanction it.

  5. “They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again.”

    It’s the details in these passages that brings this scene to life and gives it the sense that it truly happened in this way. Not all of the Gospel stories are like that, but this one is. In one of the Gospel stories about Jesus being in the boat with his disciples when a big storm is going on, it talks about him being asleep on a cushion. Again, I love that detail about the cushion. When Jesus is talking to the huge crowds, it talks about the people sitting on green grass. Not just grass…green grass. These are tiny things, but they are special to me.

  6. Flatrocker says

    When I referenced Luke 22:19, I meant Luke 22:19.

    You appear to take issue with the figurative language of sweat being “like blood” as opposed to being actual blood. My point is (as I am typing this slowly and deliberately), you are astute in noticing the figurative language of Luke 22:44. It does leave us open to interpretation – my congratulations to you for noticing.

    I, along with many others, prefer see His agony as capable of producing sweat mingled with blood. I am at peace with this as are many others. This view does not diminish His glory, nor does it demean His word. On the contrary, it might actually allow for a more exulted interpretation. Maybe, just maybe, it allows us to release Him from the box we tend to place Him in with our own narrow interpretations.

    As for v. 19, my point is there is no figurative speech here. One thing that is stunningly clear – when Christ speaks, His language is incredibly precise and direct – always. He means exactly what he says. We need to see this for what He says, not for what we think He means or what our cocooning community may interpret.

    Hence, my original statement – The “is” to which I refer is precise and direct. Go re-read the verse and decide what battle you are willing to wage concerning Literal vs. Figurative.

    Gnats and Camels, Planks and Splinters – choose where you will stand and by consequence you will know where you are willing to fall.

    When it comes to His direct words and commands, I choose to follow Him literally.
    I stand with His Body and Blood and I will do this in His remembrance.
    And, by the courage of His grace, I pray that I will fall with His cross.

    Will you?