Tuesday 31st March
2nd Station Jesus Takes Up His Cross
“Embrace” Sieger Koeder
St John John 19: 17
Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
“… by himself…” The phrase may seem incidental; but place it alongside our accumulated remembrance of Jesus’ journey to Calvary, and it stands out as a striking detail. Wasn’t there another who carried the cross for Jesus?
Well, later in this sequence of Devotions we will indeed encounter Simon of Cyrene; but in John’s Gospel, he’s nowhere to be seen. Is it too fanciful to wonder whether John has heard or read the story about another cross-bearer and has said NO! – as if there is a note of quiet defiance in his affirmation that Christ carried the cross by himself?
It is elsewhere in John’s Gospel that we find the key to unlock this conundrum. Earlier – before the street-theatre of his entry into Jerusalem, just at the time when tensions between Jesus and the religious authorities had been starting to intensify – John records that Jesus spoke of himself as the Good Shepherd, the one who would lay down his life for the sheep.
And there he said:
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18)
No-one will take his life from him; he carries the cross by himself.
Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the intriguing title of today’s painting by Sieger Koeder. With bloodied hands, Jesus is bold to meet with an EMBRACE the cross on which he will be lifted.
Therefore come to him, when you are weighed down with burdens of hidden guilt or unresolved pain. For though “we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted”, even so “he has borne our infirmities, and carried our diseases.” (Isaiah 53:4)
He carries – our cross – by himself.
you have trod our path,
even under the terrible weight of a cross.
And in your love, you invite us
to take your yoke, and a burden that is light.
So give us grace and courage
to walk your way.