The Bare Soul - March 31, 2013
The Stations of the Cross

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Stations of the Cross" delivered to the homeless 
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on March 28, 2013.

The Stations of the Cross - March 28, 2013

PowerPoint Presentation
with VoiceOver Sermon

Luke 9:23 - And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."

At first glance -- from the title of this piece -- one might think I am about to muse on the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. This, of course, is the traditional route that Jesus took after his the Roman governor Pilate sentenced Jesus to be crucified. The various stations depict the scenes of his journey to Golgotha (the present day site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher). Whether you are Roman Catholic or not, it is interesting to walk the Via Dolorosa and imagine the various stages of Christ's sufferings when visiting Jerusalem. However, as misleading as it may be, this exhortation is not about Christ and His cross bearing. Rather, it is about the cross Jesus told us we all must bear in order to be true followers of His.

The cross of Jesus Christ will forever be the symbol for Christ's great redemption which He wrought for all mankind. Therefore, we must never diminish it by saying we are bearing the cross of Jesus. He forever bore it for us and redeemed us through His death and resurrection. For us, the Gospel writers made it abundantly clear the cross we must bear if we are to be His disciples. As a matter of fact, all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) mention how we are told to bear our own cross. Interestingly, Luke gives us a bit more detail in his statement of Jesus' command regarding cross-bearing. He adds the word "daily" when he tells us we must pick up our cross and follow the Lord.

While Christendom has created tradition around the Stations of the Cross, I have taken the liberty in subsequent sections to discuss what I believe are the stations of the cross for those who truly desire to follow Christ. If we know Jesus Christ, we know His cross, for we have identified with His death, burial, and resurrection. Paul tells us plainly in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." The first part is true for every believer. However, the remainder of this verse is conditional regarding our response.

For those who wish to go on in Christ and truly become His followers, I would suggest the following directives taken from Luke 9:23, our lead verse:

The aforementioned is merely an outline for knowing there is more to grasp then the understanding that Jesus died on the cross for us. Too often we desire to cling to Christ's cross when we should be bearing our own. As already mentioned, Jesus never told us to bear His cross, for that is an impossibility since He bore it for us. Many Christians want to stop there and just identify with what Christ has done for them by saving their souls from eternal fire. But what of the fire that cleanses us here on earth to resemble our Lord? We say "I have been crucified with Christ," yet the way we live tells the world no such thing. Paul stated in the next part of this verse "and it is no longer I who live." He had become so identified with the death of Christ that the resurrection power of Jesus within Him was a reality all could see. Every day, Paul bore his cross which shouted to the world the various stations of his testimony -- desire, denial, decision, and daily deliberate dedication. Paul knew he was saved, but he wanted so much more. He wanted to know His Savior by first becoming conformed to His death and then to His resurrection power (Philippians 3:10-11). As he said to the Galatians, he knew it was not by his own power he was doing this but by the cross of Christ through which the world [had] been crucified to [him], and [him] to the world (Galatians 6:14).

Where are we, beloved of God, in the stations of the cross? If we have not the desire to even start on our pilgrimage of love, will we not ask the Lord who will surely give it to us? He jealously desires the Spirit to dwell within us (James 4:5). How much more does He long for us to desire more of Him? He will bring us to each station of the cross if we allow Him, allowing us to bear our crucifix in total surrender to Him. The result will be a glorious sanctification that will make us like the One we closely follow.

Heavenly Father, the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18). Help us to not only love the cross of Your Son, but to also love the cross we are all to bear, becoming more like Him as we encounter Him at every station in life. Grant us wisdom and strength to love the journey You have marked out for all those who are Your true followers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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