I haven’t yet had the privilege of walking where Jesus walked, but the contributor of today’s testimony has. I pray you will be blessed as you read Mary Zatkalik’s eye-witness account of a “Good Friday” celebration in Jerusalem.
I will never forget my three-week stay in Israel and specifically, the time spent in Jerusalem. My husband and I chose the Windmill Hotel because it offered a Seder experience at sunset on Passover. Also, we could walk to the Old City of Jerusalem, just blocks from the hotel, and sightsee.
The Old City boasts of archaeological history and its narrow streets feature vendors selling beautiful gifts, colorful fresh produce and braids of freshly baked bread. We learned where the various gates to the city were located to allow us entrance, and we prayed at the Western Wall.
I will forever remember the Friday afternoon which happened to also be Good Friday. After lunch in the hotel, we meandered over to the Old City where we entered through the gate and immediately we were swept up into a whirlwind. I felt out of control when my feet barely touched the ground because a mass of people carried me with them to their destination. I still remember the panic on my husband’s face because he, too, was taken away by the crowd but at least it looked like we were headed in the same direction.
The event taking place, “The Way of the Cross,” sometimes refers to the “Stations of the Cross.” A fancier name, the “Via Dolorosa,” depicts the suffering journey of Jesus as He walked down those narrow streets of Jerusalem to face his crucifixion and death on the cross for the sins of mankind.
Catholic churches offer the Stations of the Cross in their Good Friday services. As a child, I remember the quiet reflection and prayer times with my mom where we physically moved from one station to the next within the sanctuary of the church meditating on the journey Jesus took from The Last Supper to His death and burial.
For clarity, these are the Biblical meditations:
- Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples
- Jesus in the garden
- Jesus betrayed by Judas, then arrested
- Jesus condemned by the Sanhedrin
- Jesus denied [by Peter]
- Jesus judged by Pilate [sent to Herod Antipas, then returned to Pilate]
- Jesus scourged
- Jesus took His cross
- Jesus helped by Simon
- Jesus crucified
- Jesus [temporarily] prepared for burial
- Jesus placed in the tomb
It’s one thing to sit in a quiet church and recite prayers at each station, but it’s a whole different experience to be there with passionate believers where history approximately took place about 2000 years ago. I heard the sounds of voices crying out in worship and I stared at the cross carried vertically above the crowd. My heart gripped with emotion that Good Friday.
I am ecstatic to have had the experience of being a part of that passionate movement that day. I tasted the excitement of Via Dolorosa. The roar of a crowd at each “station” gave me an appreciation of not only the scene but the original journey on that road to Calvary. I am not only thankful to have participated, but thankful that I survived!