Walking the fourteen Stations of the Cross is a traditional pilgrimage taken by many Christians for centuries, remembering the route that Jesus took towards the Crucifixion, on Good Friday. Those who participate in this devotional practice normally never have the opportunity to go to Jerusalem itself to do it, along the “Via Dolorosa.”
Though the route has been marked out in Jerusalem, in various ways, since the medieval period, we really do not for sure the exact path Jesus took. Nevertheless, walking the Stations of the Cross can still be a very meaningful, memorable experience.
The last few stations are in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus’ Crucifixion, which makes this year, 2020, all the more weird, as the Church closed recently, due to the threat of COVID-19. In other words, do not expect many people going down the Via Dolorosa today, on this year’s Good Friday (at least for Western Christians).
I do not know anything about Vic Stefanu, other than that he is a popular travel vlogger on YouTube. But a few years ago, he walked the Via Dolorosa, in Jerusalem. This has helped me in my Good Friday meditation, to virtually walk the Via Dolorosa:
The Gospel accounts of Easter and the trial of Jesus before Pilate have considerable agreement, and some interestingly unique statements. While all four accounts agree on the essential details of what happened early in the morning of Good Friday, April 3rd, 33 CE, only Luke records that Jesus was interrogated by Herod Antipas (see Luke’s Sources). Only John—writing long after the three synoptic Gospel writers—adds the detail of the name of the location in Jerusalem where the trial took place (Gabbatha). And in writing that one word, John left a great clue for modern archaeologists to find the location of the trial.
There is so much to be gleaned about the veracity of the Gospel accounts from reading about the trial of Jesus. The accounts are not identical. But they are not inconsistent. An argument could be made that if this material was contrived, all four accounts would be more homogeneous in the narrative details.
Archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson (mentioned in an earlier post) conducted a dig of the Gabbatha site in Jerusalem, and reached some conclusions that even his critics concede are probably correct, rewickering the traditional Via Dolorosa (“Way of Suffering”) in the process. This type of work, and online resources, can help us see the Bible in context.
Among all that occurred at His trial, Jesus mocked Pontius Pilate—the judge who had the power to set Him free—with sarcasm. I don’t know why that detail is so important, but somehow it just is. Consider the painting below, which may be one of the most correctly detailed paintings of Jesus ever crafted.
If you research the work of Dr. Gibson, be careful—there are high-profile misrepresentations of his work, as he himself is quick to point out. Unfortunately there are those who seem to be motivated more by the need to entertain than a desire to get the facts right. This topic keeps coming up, and we will address it in forthcoming posts.