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Good Friday

May we enter the story as pilgrims, not tourists.

Not long after we left Rome, Albert Tate told our group we could proceed as tourists... or as pilgrims.

In case that wording is new to you, the fundamental difference between a tourist and a pilgrim is the purpose and intention of their travel. The motivation of their hearts.

While the tourist might travel for simple leisure, the pilgrim will travel for spiritual meaning. It’s an internal difference in the way one approaches the journey.

With that in mind, we headed out to visit places like Corinth, Ephesus, Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, Mars Hill, and eventually Jerusalem (be sure and subscribe to get photos from those places another time).

The night before embarking on our walk to where Jesus began his excruciating journey to the cross, Albert set the stage once again. He reminded us that as we walked the streets of Old Jerusalem in the morning, life would be going on like any other day, with people selling goods or going about their typical business as if Jesus was a nobody - just another person who deserved to be put to death.

The temptation would be for us to be offended! After all, this is Jesus we are talking about!

Albert reminded us that on the day we now call Good Friday, people were going about their everyday business. They were selling goods, shopping for food, and if they noticed him at all they might have simply seen another prisoner being beaten and sent to his death just like the two other criminals who were to be hung up on crosses right next to him.

However, as we know from Scripture, nothing could be further from the truth.

We began walking down the Via Dolorosa, a name I had never heard of until 6 months ago.

What is the Via Dolorosa? It’s is a route that follows the path Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion. The name "Via Dolorosa" means "Way of Sorrow" or "Way of Grief" in Latin - a powerful reminder of Jesus' sacrifice and the depth of his love for humanity.

The Via Dolorosa consists of 14 stations, each of which marks a specific event that took place during Jesus' journey to the cross.

Here’s a basic description of each of the 14 stations:

  1. Praetorium: Jesus is condemned to death by Pilate.

  2. Flagellation: Jesus is beaten and whipped by the Roman soldiers.

  3. Crown of Thorns: Jesus is mocked and humiliated with a crown of thorns placed on his head.

  4. Carrying of the Cross: Jesus takes up his cross and begins the journey to Calvary.

  5. Simon of Cyrene: Simon is forced to help Jesus carry his cross.

  6. Veronica: A woman wipes Jesus' face with a cloth and leaves an imprint of his face on it.

  7. Falls: Jesus falls for the first time under the weight of the cross.

  8. Cyrenian's Help: Simon helps Jesus to stand up and continue the journey.

  9. Women of Jerusalem: Jesus speaks to a group of women and predicts the destruction of Jerusalem.

  10. Stripping of Garments: Jesus is stripped of his clothing and humiliated in front of the crowd.

  11. Nail in the Cross: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

  12. Death of Jesus: Jesus dies on the cross.

  13. Descent from the Cross: Jesus' body is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his mother, Mary.

  14. Burial: Jesus is buried in a tomb.

As I wrote in yesterday’s reflection, there are some landmarks in Jerusalem and other places in Israel where you really have to go out of your way to imagine what it would have been like 2,000 years ago. And truth be told, even on this walk you absolutely have to close your eyes to imagine what it would have been like due to the enormous structures which have been built over the sites to preserve the space. Or at least I did.

However, as pilgrims, we quietly walked down the Via Dolorosa, and we could not only see what would have been 2,000 years ago, we also felt his presence with us.

Why would we feel his presence with us?

Because a lot can happen between Friday and Sunday.

Easter is coming.

Stay tuned.

(Below are the rest of the photos I took of the Via Dolorosa and surrounding areas / churches. They are not in order but will give you a better idea of what it looks like today!)

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