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Monday, May 12, 2014

Road to Resurrection



Revisiting the Passion – Road to Resurrection




1.       We looked briefly at the 14 “stations” of the cross last week. This week we’ll look at them more closely. First, Jesus is condemned (1). In human, historical terms, who condemns him, how, when, where, and why? What about in Spiritual terms?

2.       Prisoners who were to be crucified were often scourged beforehand, especially if the death was not required to take too long. Do you know which gospel doesn’t mention Jesus being scourged? Read Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20, John 19:1-4. What is different in John’s account? How is John’s emphasis different?

3.       Biblically, Jesus is condemned, given his cross (2) and led away. In the space of a few verses, someone else is compelled to carry the cross (5); Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus. Read Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26. Why do you think an event that is quoted in only three Bible verses is so well remembered?

4.       The 14 stations place “Jesus falls the first time (3)” and “Jesus meets his mother (4)” prior to Simon taking the cross. Why might that be? Read John 19:25.

5.       Luke’s gospel is the only one that records Jesus’ meeting with the women of Jerusalem (8) on the road to Golgotha. Read Luke 23:27-31. What do you think Jesus is talking about here? Why do you think Luke includes it? (And do you know which other story of the cross is only recorded in Luke?)

6.       The stations include “Veronica wipes Jesus’ face (6)” and “Jesus falls a second time (7)” before the meeting with the women. The story of Veronica might be “tradition” rather than “Bible teaching.” Are there other traditions that Christians frequently accept about Bible stories? If you were told there’s a Biblical background to the story of Veronica, what would come to mind?

7.       In the Acts of Pilate, Veronica is identified with the women who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. A Carmelite nun in the late 1800s had a vision of Veronica wiping spit and mud from Jesus face and prophesied that sacrilege and blasphemy add to the spit and mud on his face. The Eastern tradition of the Mandylion (image of Edessa) dates back much further that Western traditions of the Veronica (vera icon – true image). What human need do you the think the story speaks to? Is that still a human longing?

8.       In the Stations of the Cross, Jesus is recorded as falling three times (9). Is the number significant?

9.       Without checking the Bible reference, when was Jesus given myrrh mixed with water to drink? Now read Matthew 27:34, 35a, Mark 15:23,24a. Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36 and John 19:29 are the verses people usually remember.

10.   The tenth station records Jesus being stripped of his garments. What happens to those garments afterward?

11.   Read Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34b, John 19:23-24. John is the only gospel to record Jesus’ robe not being torn. What message might John be trying to convey? (Read Psalm 22:18)

12.   Only John records the argument over the charge nailed to Jesus’ cross. Why do you think that might be, remembering that John is the only one who recorded Jesus’ longer debate with Pilate? Read Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19-22.

13.   The Jews mocked Jesus on the cross. How would you answer the question “He saved others; why doesn’t he save himself?” Does that help you answer the parallel question, “Why doesn’t he help me, now?” Read Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-37.

14.   The prisoners crucified with Jesus mocked him too, but Luke records one as the “repentant thief.” Read Luke 23:40-43. Again, this is a story that’s well remembered. Why is it so important to us? Why do you think it was so important to Luke?
15.   Only John records Jesus’ interaction with his mother from the cross.  Why do you think this is? Is John the only one who records women watching the crucifixion? Read Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49, John 19:25-27.

16.   The Easter song (“Oh come and mourn with me a while,” by Frederik Faber)says, ‘Seven times He spake seven words of love; / And all three hours His silence cried / For mercy on the souls of men; / Jesus our Lord is crucified.’ How well do you remember those seven phrases, without looking them up? Do you think the number seven is significant? Look at each in turn and note how and why it seems important to you.
a.       “Father forgive them,” is only recorded in Luke 23:34

b.      “Today you will be with me in paradise,” is only recorded in Luke 23:43

c.       “Woman, here is your son,” appears only in John 19:26-27

d.      “Why have you forsaken me,” appears in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

e.      “I am thirsty,” is only in John 19:28 (so not in the accounts where Jesus is offered sour wine to drink)

f.        “It is finished,” John 19:30

g.       “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” Luke 23:46

17.   The twelfth station records Jesus’ death on the cross. What events does the Bible say happened at this point?

18.   Why might the sky have been dark for three hours? What three hours are these (Catholic tradition celebrates Jesus’ death at 3pm)? Could it have been an eclipse—at Passover? Read Matthew 27:45-46, Mark 15:33-34, Luke 23:44.

19.   Matthew records an earthquake, open tombs, and ghosts walking. When and where did the ghosts walk? Read Matthew 27:51-53. Is there any significance to “after His resurrection”?

20.   Physically, the veil in the Temple is torn. Which veil is this and why might it have torn? What does tearing the veil symbolize to Christians? Read Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45.

21.   Traditionally, the centurion who stood at the foot of the cross is called Longinus, and his name appears in the Acts of Pilate. Matthew, Mark and Luke record his affirmation of faith differently (Read Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39, Luke 23:47). John gives more detail, describing how a Jesus’ side is pierced with a spear (from which come legends of the Spear of Destiny – some legends say the blood and water were collected in the cup from the last supper, then called the Holy Grail). John also reports how Jesus’ legs were not broken, despite the need for him to die before the Sabbath. The details are graphic and convincing. And the prophecies are ancient. Do you see why these details have been important in many conversions? Read John 19:31-37, Psalm 34:20, Zechariah 12:10.

22.   At the 13th station, Jesus’ is taken down from the cross. How would you answer critics who say maybe he wasn’t really dead?

23.   At the 14th station, Jesus is laid in the tomb. Whose tomb was Jesus laid in? Who helped to bury him? Who watched? Who brought the spices? Read Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42. And who guarded the tomb (and why)? Read Matthew 27:62-66.

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