He stood there speechless gasping for breath while dripping blood from his brow.
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" the crowd screamed in agreement.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth was sentenced to death by Pilate on Friday. He would hang from a cross on Golgotha.
He picked up His cross—weighing anywhere from 100-300 pounds—and journeyed through Jerusalem to be slaughtered like a criminal.
The path Jesus took to Calvary is commonly referred to as: Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering in Latin).
The Way of Suffering
While scholars aren't 100% sure of the exact route Jesus walked, the sentiment is the same. He partook in the journey—the way of suffering—to accept the penalty for my sins.
He endured the unthinkable—the unimaginable—so that I could experience that which I did not earn:
The Via Dolorosa is a historical walk that many Christians journey through in reflection of the suffering that Christ experienced so we could be free.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24, ESV
What Do I Do With My Suffering?
In the moments when I am being crushed, I often crawl up in a ball and pray for God to take away my pain... as if His highest priority was to keep me growing.
How could you take away my daddy! I shouted in despair.
How can you let me battle anxiety and depression! I scream in silence.
Why do you feel so far in the moments I need you most! I cry out while running away.
Suffering sucks. Pain sucks. There is nothing easy about it and nobody ever wakes up hoping to be crushed. And yet, Paul still challenges the church in Rome with these words:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5, NIV
Paul shares that there is something more going on here.
We were not created to experience suffering. We were created to experience love. Suffering, however, matures us, grows us, and molds us into Jesus' image.
I'm convinced that we can't fully accept the gift of love until we journey to the cross and endure suffering.
So whether you are in the valley, on the mountaintop, or carrying your cross down the Via Dolorosa, I want you to know that you are not alone.
You are never alone.