The way of the cross

The Covington News - - Religion -

“Fol­low me.” The words rang in Peter’s mind as he thought back to the first time he had met this re­mark­able man. And just as he had done three years ago by the sea and ev­ery day since, he fol­lowed Je­sus.

He fol­lowed him through the streets in the dark be­hind his friend who was flanked by tem­ple guards as they walked to the home of the high priest. Luke tells us that Peter fol­lowed at a dis­tance.

Through­out my life, I have heard many crit­i­cisms of Peter for fol­low­ing at a dis­tance. But Peter had been the one who had boldly stood up to the tem­ple guards, who cut off the ear of the tem­ple ser­vant and now who fol­lowed at a dis­tance, slink­ing through the dark­ness, stealth­ily fol­low­ing his friend.

Yes, Peter was the one who con­tin­ued to fol­low Je­sus into the court­yard, keep­ing his prom­ise that he would never desert his best friend.

But even Peter, as the night wore on, de­nied know­ing Je­sus just as Je­sus had fore­told. But for now, Peter fol­lowed Je­sus’ foot­steps through the streets. He walked the path that Je­sus walked on the way to the cross.

What does that mean for us al­most 2,000 years later? The streets are still there, still trav­eled, and we won­der if they look like they did in Je­sus’ day. Here in 21st cen­tury Amer­ica, it is hard to imag­ine the scene. Our sys­tems of jus­tice are more civ­i­lized now. Criminals don’t have to suf­fer on public dis­play.

I won­der if Je­sus had been ar­rested in this coun­try, would he have waited in prison for years and years be­fore be­ing led to a lethal in­jec­tion? Would his friends have de­manded a mis­trial or a par­don? The idea of suf­fer­ing and dy­ing on a cross, a nor­mal form of pun­ish­ment 2,000 years ago, is so for­eign to us to­day that we find it hard to con­nect … hard to see our­selves on the way to the cross … even harder to walk the steps that Je­sus walked that night of his ar­rest.

Time marches on, but we can­not for­get the way of the cross.

The way of the cross leads to suf­fer­ing, to pain, to tor­ture, to death and ul­ti­mately to life. Each Len­ten sea­son, we retell the story of Je­sus' last hours on earth, from the gar­den, to the cross, to the tomb.

This year, many tal­ented and gifted peo­ple have come to­gether to cre­ate a jour­ney called the Sta­tions of the Cross.

This in­ter­ac­tive jour­ney takes the scrip­tures that tell the story of Je­sus’ trial and death and helps us re­late to them in a con­tem­po­rary way.

The free ex­hibit is hosted by Cov­ing­ton First United Methodist Church and is open to the public Sun­day through Fri­day through Good Fri­day. For hours, see our web­site at www. cov­ing­ton­first. org.

Come and walk the steps that Je­sus walked on the way to the cross. Come and be changed for­ever.

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