The Word of the Month for March 2024

CRUCIFIXION

Stations of the Cross

The tradition of churches containing pictures or carvings illustrating Jesus’ journey to the cross is at least as old as the middle ages, when it was popularised by the Franciscans, although its roots might lie much earlier than that among early Christians who had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem wishing to create an annual reminder of the way in which they had followed the route that Jesus took on his way to be crucified.

The temporary stations of the cross that you will find during March at St. Mary Abchurch are the traditional fourteen. They are listed here. Where they are based on passages in the gospels those passages are printed. Where they are based on later tradition, no biblical text is given.

1. Jesus is condemned to death

But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and
“you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power”,
and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” ’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death. (Mark 14:61–64)

2. Jesus carries his cross

Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:14–17)

3. Jesus falls for the first time

[The gospels contain no account of Jesus falling]

4. Jesus meets his mother

[The gospels contain no account of Jesus meeting his mother on his way to the cross.]

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21)

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

[The gospels contain no account of Veronica wiping Jesus’ face]

7. Jesus falls for the second time

[The gospels contain no account of Jesus falling]

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23:27–28)

9. Jesus falls a third time

[The gospels contain no account Jesus falling]

10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes

Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. (Mark 15:22–24)

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. (Mark 15:25–32)

12. Jesus speaks to his mother

… standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19: 25-27)

13. Jesus dies on the cross

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’ (Mark 15:33–39)

14. Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross

When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. (Mark 15:42–45)

15. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. (Mark 15:46–47)

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