Anglican Morning Devotion,11 December 2021 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29¶And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.” (Matthew 27:27-31; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Before every sunrise must come the darkest hour of our night. Our Lord’s command to “take up his cross daily and follow me,” (Luke 9:23) was intended for all ways and all paths of His journey – by the peaceful shores of Galilee, over the rocky slopes of Samaria, on the stormy waters of the sea, and, finally, the sorrowful march to the cross.
But that darkest of all moments came just before the rolling away of the stone to reveal the empty Tomb of our Lord.
The Road we discuss today, is the saddest of all, but ends in complete and unconditional victory over the powers of darkness and the Prince of the Air. As the darkness grew most smothering, we had the Bright and Morning Star to guide us in the way; and at the moment of resurrection, a new Light was beamed across the ages for our enlightenment. That Morning Star was the Firstborn of the sons of God in the Person of our Day Star. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your heart– this was the Sun of Righteousness spoken of by Malachi the prophet.” (2 Peter 1:19) That Day Star is the brightest star in our heaven and becomes our Sun. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
We may view the Via Dolorosa (the path our Lord trod in carrying His cross from Pilate’s paddock to Mount Calvary outside the gates of Jerusalem) as the last Road and path of our Lord; but I am happy to say, it was NOT! From His vantage point on the cross, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple, our Lord was mindful of each of His elect from Abraham until the last Day of Jubilation when all time would cease and the dead in Christ will rise. In fact, our names were inscribed on the palms of His hands by the nine-inch, iron nails that pierced those palms. (see Isaiah 49:15-16)
He was mindful of the poor women of Jerusalem and their children even as He bore the cruel cross to Golgotha: “And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)
The blood-streaked Via Dolorosa led from Pilate’s Fortress Antonio to Mt. Calvary – a distance of 2,000 ft. This is not so great a distance unless one has been deprived of sleep, beaten with a whip encrusted with metal and glass fragments, had a crown of one-inch thorns driven down upon His brow, and spit upon and beaten by Roman soldiers – and then required to bear His own cross for much of the distance. Our crosses will not be light always. They may be instruments of joy, at times. But there will always be a shadow of rejection, cursing’s, and self-denial associated with the cross if borne in truth and devotion.
There is a well-worn adage that says, “All good things must come to an end.” That is true of worldly things that men treasure, but not of the heavenly – the BEST things never come to an end. Though the believer is spitefully used and abused in this world, his stripes are nothing worth compared to the joys of his reward both in his present life and of that life to come.
Our Lord died on the cross to satisfy the terms of the Law for us. He did not annul the Law, but made it more stringent based on the element of love that enables us to be obedient thereto. He was buried in a BORROWED TOMB. Why Borrowed? Because He only needed its use for three days. In Christ, we too will have a borrowed tomb. This was not the end of the Road, but the beginning which we shall address in the next, and last, devotion on Roads. The end of the Road is not the cross, but paradise.