The Passion Walk – Steps on the Journey

The Passion Walk – Steps on the Journey

by 

Mike Raha

Step 1  Jesus Predicts His Death.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  –John 12:23-24

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?   ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” –John 12:27-28

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”– John 12:32

Jesus’ life taught us about His Kingdom and prepared us for His great act of love we call “SALVATION.”  Indeed, the name Jesus [“Jeshua”] in Hebrew means “he who saves.” Jesus calls us not to wealth, prosperity, a good education, social status, or the like; rather, He calls us to follow Him.

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am my servant also will be.”–John 12:26a

As we prepare to walk in His footsteps, let us remember that we are called and chosen. “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” –John 15:16a

Thoughts:   Be open to the Word of God acting in your life.  Watch Jesus as He walks the path to your salvation and be aware of His personal call to you to follow Him.  Listen for the message He wants you to accept.

Step 2  Jesus Is Abandoned By His Disciples.

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny that you know me three times.” — John 13: 37-38

Judas went to the chief priests and officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.–Luke 22:4-5

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” ….So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.– Matthew 27:3-5

Jesus is left alone to suffer for us, but He knows this is why He came.  He teaches us to be watchful at all times. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” –Mark 14:38

Thoughts: Judas was convicted in his heart (“seized with remorse”) for his sin of betrayal but his greater sin was his failure to trust in Jesus’ mercy, in spite of years of learning at Jesus’ feet.  Full of ourselves, we might even pronounce that if we were given the opportunities given to Judas, we would never betray Jesus.  Jesus reminds us how weak we are and how easily, like Judas and Peter, we can fail.

However, Peter called on Jesus’ mercy for forgiveness and Judas despaired of the love of God for His children.  Truly, we must “watch and pray” always that we not follow our temptations.  Judas’ legacy for us is not so much his betrayal of Jesus, but his choosing to avoid coming to Jesus seeking forgiveness.

When convicted in your heart, follow Jesus’ call.  Go to Him with humble confession, hopeful prayer of remorse and change of heart, and faith-filled assurance of His love for you.

Accept His merciful forgiveness and continue walking with Him on your journey.  Burn His promise into your heart.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Joshua 1:5

Trust Jesus and follow Him in all things.

Step 3  Jesus in the Garden

Gethsemane: A garden near Jerusalem, where Jesus went to pray occasionally. The name means, “oil press”  [from “gath”, wine press, and “shemen,” liquid].  Olive oil was precious. It was used for cooking, eating, anointing, as a skin salve and medicine.

On this night, Jesus struggled in the garden.  He knew every step that was ahead and He knew why He was there on that dark night.  He carried the burden of my sin as well as the pain that would soon be inflicted on His human body.  His humanity cried out to His Divinity to release Him from the conflict within.  He must conform Himself totally to His Father’s will: “…if it is possible, let this cup pass…yet not my will, but yours be done”  [Matthew 26:39].  Jesus continued the unfolding drama of my Redemption that began when His mother offered herself to the Lord’s will: “…be it done unto me according to your word”  [Luke 1: 38].

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”   Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”   When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.” –Matthew 26:36-45.

Thoughts:  Are there things in your life that make you feel pressed?   Give them up; you just do not have to carry them any further on your walk.  Offer them to Jesus. He has promised to yoke [join] with you and accept your burden.  Give it up. It IS just that simple only because Jesus has already told you this is what he wants. “…watch and pray.”

Pray for conformity to God’s will in all things.  That is always the right direction. Let Jesus’ prayer be my prayer, “…may your will be done.”

Step 4  The Trial

The leaders of the Synagogue and the Pharisees led Jesus to the High Priest, where the teachers of the law, elders and on-lookers had been assembled. Some disciples had followed at a distance.  The Roman soldiers took Him into the Praetorium and gathered around Him. They stripped Him. They dressed Him in a red robe, pushed a crown of long thorns into His head and gave Him a reed for a scepter.  They mocked and humiliated Him. “Hail, King of the Jews!” they shouted and they spit on Him.  They bashed His head time and time again with heavy clubs, all the while ridiculing Him as an impostor-King.  Three times His beloved Peter denies that he knows Him, swearing even with oaths before His God.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.  They all answered, “Crucify him!”   “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.   But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”  When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead a riot might start, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”  All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”  Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus brutally lashed, and handed him over to be crucified. — Matthew 27:22-26

Imagine yourself to be Peter, standing in the outer courtyard, watching and hearing everything that was happening.  You have followed this Nazarene carpenter for three years as He taught, preached and healed so many people. Even the wind and the waves obeyed this “Son of Man,” as He liked to call Himself.  Sinners flocked to hear His every word; now He could hardly talk, betrayed by a mouth filled with blood and covered with torn flesh from the glass-shards and iron-tipped Roman scourges.  Here is your King, kneeling in His own blood and bits of His flesh before the howling mob.  Here is your king, impaled by His own thorny crown.  Here is your king–and you have disowned Him before His enemies and in the presence of God.

Thoughts: What would you like to tell Jesus right now?  Have you ever been in Peter’s shoes? What weighs heavily on your heart at this moment?  Like Judas Iscariot, will you run away to the darkness of death?  Or, like Peter-bar-Jonah, will you beg Jesus for mercy and forgiveness?  Jesus is looking right at you.  Speak your words to Him.

Step 5 the Path to Death

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.  They came to a place called Golgotha (which means the Place of the Skull)

Close your eyes and travel to Calvary.  Watch as the soldiers shove the Nazarene to the ground and force His arms against the beams.  Jesus turns His face toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it.  Through the eyes of scripture we see what others missed but what Jesus said.   “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cutaway. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all your sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.“ –Colossians 2:13-14 [GNT] 

Between His hands and the wood there was a list.  A long list, a list of our mistakes: our lusts and lies and greedy moments and prodigal years.  A list of our sins. (taken from He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado) 

 “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.” –John 19:28-29

While hanging on the cross Jesus was offered a taste of vinegar for His thirst. Remember the bitter times you’ve had in life.  Ask God to carry you through tough times and prevent you from becoming bitter.  Thank Him for all He endured for you.

Jesus’ robe was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.  So the soldiers did not want to tear it, but threw dice to see who would win it.  It must have been Jesus’ finest possession.  Jewish tradition called for a mother to make such a robe and present it to her son as a departure gift when he left home.  Had Mary done this for Jesus? We don’t know, most likely she did. The soldiers gambled for Jesus’ robe, ignoring the Son of God who hung above them.   How do you ignore God?

Thoughts: THE place has finally been reached.  Now is the hour of my redemption.  Jesus stands at the place of the skull, and He waits.  Pushed to the ground; wrestled onto the cross; body cruelly stretched; nails pounded into His bloody hands and feet: He is ready to carry out this final act of His love for us.  Drenched in His own precious blood, the wood is lifted up and shudders with its precious burden as it sinks into the hole prepared to hold the Creator of all that is.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,  and by his wounds we are healed. –Isaiah 53:5   How much do I owe Him?   Much!

Step 6 At the Foot of the Cross

There they offered Jesus vinegar-wine to drink; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it.  When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots.  And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.  Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the thieves hanging beside Jesus begged Him to “remember me” in heaven.  No more chances for this thief.  No more appeals.  No possibility of rescue or a miracle. He was pinned to the wood and awaiting the blessing of death. His heart was heavy as he reviewed his mis-spent life. Luke tells us the thief knew he was guilty and knew he was getting what he deserved.  His sentence was just. This man violated the law, and payment in full was due.  But there, next to him, was this other man– this “Jesus.”  Even a thief knows innocence when he sees it.  Even a thief knows the difference between fair and unfair.  But the heart cannot always remain silent.  Sometimes the longings which live there force their way into our voices.  The thief blurts out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Can you imagine what the thief must have been thinking, “What did I say? What is the matter with me? I’m lost and I’m finished.  My life is over.  I don’t even know this guy next to me, except I feel like I do.  His torn body bleeds its innocence.  And those eyes–His eyes– they see right through me.  The attraction to Him is overwhelming; I can’t stop looking at Him!

What did I say again? Oh yeah, “Remember me” I can’t believe I said that.  Why would He remember me? This makes no sense whatsoever.  I deserve what is happening to me, but here I am asking Him to take me with Him wherever  it is He’s going.

This is crazy, some people say this Jesus guy is God.  If He is, then I’m done for.  One thing I learned at synagogue, God is just.  God is fair. Wait a minute, He’s mumbling something.  I….I…can’t quite understand…”  (excerpt taken from Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli)

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23:43

One look, one word from Jesus…TODAY! The thief repented and that was enough to carry him into the presence of God.  God’s love may seem unfair to admit such a sinner, but His “unfairness” includes me, too.  How can I argue?  Every day hear Him whisper, “I’ll never take back my grace!”  Thank Him for His grace, for the gift of redemption.

Thoughts: How often am I reminded that Jesus died for sinners?  Every day? Every hour?Still, how often do I concede to temptation?  Every day? Every hour? He does not leave me but I often push Him away–this same Jesus I just visited on a cross veiled with His blood.  “Remember me, Jesus, even when I forget you!”

Step 7  Death Comes

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life…when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!”  –Matthew 27:45-54

Here is Jesus, gasping for breath, dying a brutal death by suffocation nailed to a Roman cross, an instrument of brazen torture.  You are there at the scene.  What is going through your mind? The sin of all human beings made Jesus choose to go to the cross, not the Roman soldiers who arrested and tormented Him.  His love for you held Him there; He chose to stay fixed on that cross for you.  When Jesus died that day, so many people watching must have felt their hopes die with Jesus.  Darkness enveloped everything that day.  Silence and thunder overshadowed the world.

Can you feel the abject loss by Jesus’ followers on that day like no other?

  Thoughts: The temple once had a thick curtain that divided the place where the people could go from the holy place where God was.  When Jesus died, there was no more separation between God and me. What divisions are there in your life? God can restore and make them whole again.  Do you feel separated from God, or from other people?  What can you do to bring restoration because of the restoration offered to you through Jesus’ death on the cross?

A Prayer:  My Lord Jesus, you made the journey to die for me with unconditional love but I have turned away from you so many times. I now offer my love to you with my whole being, and because I love you, I sincerely repent for ever having denied you or offended you in any way. Forgive me, my Lord, and permit me to accompany you on the journey to Calvary.  You went to die for love of me; please help me, my beloved redeemer, to follow out of love for you.  Jesus, I promise to live and die as one with you.

Even on the terrible cross, you taught love and forgiveness.  Help me to be even one part as forgiving to all who in some way might have injured me. May I always be thankful that you made me a child of yours.

Teach me the contradiction of your cross.  Let me understand how you stretched out your arms to die and at the same time embraced me in a way that forever changed the course of my life. Help me to be true to your Way and faithful to your expectations of me.

Infuse me with the passion of your Holy Spirit that I might inspire others to want to know you. Guide me to follow the dream you have for my life and help me to follow you for all of my days. Amen.

Step 8  Burial

Can you sense the heavy weight the disciples and those who loved Jesus must have felt as Jesus’ tomb was sealed? As the great rock was put in place over the grave opening, they were certain that death had won.  Death was a stone that no one could move.  It was final.  Jesus was gone and closed in the tomb. Didn’t Jesus Himself say “It is finished?”  The reason why He came, the reason why He shed His blood, the reason why He took the nails was written down hundreds of years before Jesus came to this earth.  It was all part of God’s merciful plan to save mankind. Every important detail had been written down.–Matthew 27:57-61

The betrayal of a friend –
Even my close friend,  someone I trusted, one who shared my bread,
has turnedagainst me. –Psalm 41:9

Forsaken by the disciples –

 I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.   When they see me on the street,
they run the other way. 12 I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot. 13 I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.   My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life. –Psalm 31:11 – 13

The false accusations –

Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good   and leave me like one bereaved.–Psalm 35:11-12

The silence before His judges –

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. –Isaiah 53:7

Being proven guiltless –

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.–Isaiah 53:9

Being included with sinners –

 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

–Isaiah 53:12

Being crucified –

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;  they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;  people stare and gloat over me. –Psalm 22:15-17

The mockery of the spectators –

 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads. –Psalm 109:25

Gambling for His garments –

They divide my clothes among them   and cast lots for my garment.–Psalm 22:18

The prayer for His enemies –

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”       –Luke 23:34

Being forsaken by God –

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,   so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. —Psalm 22:1

The bones not broken –

he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.–Psalm 34:20

Thoughts: Indeed, God had a plan for mankind’s and my, salvation from the very beginning.  The ancient prophets wrote of things to come, frequently in very plain language.  The Jewish leaders knew Messiah was coming, but they could not “connect the dots” at Jesus’ time.  Had they hardened their hearts so much to the prophecies?  Were they so zealous for their idea of the law that they condemned the Lawgiver?  Had their hearts turned to stone about forgiveness, mercy and love?

How about your heart right now?  Have you hardened yourself against another person?  Do you harbor any bad feelings towards someone who needs your love?  Do you refuse to reach out in love to another, who might just be waiting for you to take that step?  Do you cherish your sins?  Just what are your plans for your future? Will you follow Him?  Or, like the Jewish leaders, will you fail to accept Jesus as Messiah?

Step 9  The Aftermath and the New Age

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I, myself!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.  –Luke 24:36-50

The greatest story the world has ever witnessed has been fully played out on the Place of the Skull, just beyond the walls of Jerusalem.  The blood of God’s Lamb and the water from the sky have co-mingled, and this earth has been rocked to its very foundations.  Jesus spoke from His tomb and the rock disgorged its precious holding; the Light of the World was freed to live in men’s hearts forever.

This is the new age: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” –Jeremiah 31:33-34

Thoughts: Jesus is risen, indeed!  There are no reasonable doubts left.  Jesus even eats to prove He is alive!  Once again, He offers them His “peace.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” –John 14:27

He was present to them, then, as He is present to us now.  He offers us this “peace,” that only He can give.  He is no ghost of past events, locked forever in history’s great vault.  He is my Living God, the Lord of Life itself.  Repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, and He will send me what the Father has promised… and He blesses me on my way.  I am the aftermath in His plan of salvation.  Now saved, I am asked to help save others.  Do I accept His commission?

Step 10  Contemplate

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” –Matthew 16:15-16

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, He must deny Himself and take up His cross and follow me.”–Matthew 16:24

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this? –John 11:25-26

I am here at the crossroads.  I have just walked with Jesus through His final days to His cross and beyond.  Nothing in His life just happened by accident.  Every step Jesus took was purposeful, deliberate and carefully planned.  Every moment of pain, betrayal, and agony was borne by Him out of love for me. Every tear and drop of blood was created by my sinfulness. I am a part of His journey.

What will I do? 

 In my heart I can choose to hold on to my sin, bear the guilt by myself and continue to carry it as I go on about my life.   Or, I can cling to the extravagant love and forgiveness of Him who suffered and died for me.  I can proceed knowing that all is forgiven and all my bad, anxious and sad moments can all be given to Jesus.  Even my final moment is taken care of by His life, death and resurrection.

I have felt in some small way many of the feelings that the Son of God experienced for me.  I want to go forward as a changed person to pursue Jesus Who has spent so much in pursuit of me.  Indeed, He pursued me all the way to His cross.   I will pause for a few moments and quiet my mind.  I want to hear what Jesus is saying to me.

“Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”  Revelation 22:20

With permission from The Good News

www.TheGoodNewsRochester.com

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