Easter Devotional | 2024 - Day 2

Jesus Carries His Cross

By Pam Brewer

“They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.” ~ John 19:17

I had a professor in seminary who, anytime the subject of going to Israel would arise, would encourage us to visit, jokingly saying it was God’s will for us to go to Israel. I had the chance to accomplish this goal about 10 years ago when I went to Israel with Pathway to Victory and Dr. Jeffress. We had many wonderful spiritually uplifting experiences, but one in particular still stands out today in my memory. That experience changed the way I think about Jesus’ crucifixion for the rest of my life.  

It was a chilly March day, and we had already seen so many biblical sites. Having just toured the St. Anne’s church and the Pool of Bethesda, we turned right and made our way to the place I had been waiting for, the Via Dolorosa. In English, it means “the way of suffering,” the path that Jesus traveled to the cross.  

Meaningful enough just knowing this, something happened right as we came to a small intersection. This area, now known as the Muslim district, was busy with marketplaces, vendors, and artisans selling their wares, a busy intersection of everyday life for those residents. As we approached the intersection, I began to hear first one, then two, then several unfriendly and disturbing voices. Then I realized they were pointing their words toward our group, calling us American dogs, sneering at us, and shouting, “Go home, American dogs!” At first, I felt angry and disrespected, but soon my anger turned to fear and anxiety. It was at this very moment that Dr. Jeffress stopped and began to boldly and loudly preach over the gang of haters, presenting the gospel and telling the story of Jesus’ road to crucifixion in the very place where we stood. Soon, the haters quieted and left the area, leaving us to finish our walk down the Via Dolorosa.

But it was at that very moment that I thought about my emotions at being rejected, sneered at, and disrespected by those young men. It hit me that that was just a taste of what our Savior experienced on that same pathway. His rejection and disrespect went much further. He was spat on, pushed down, and forced to carry the weight of the cross and my sin. I suddenly had a new and real appreciation and gratitude for Jesus’ walk down the Via Dolorosa.

John 19:13–20 tells us about Jesus’ steps down the Via Dolorosa to the cross following Pilate’s last trial, His second flogging, and handing Him over to the Jewish leaders. It is in this passage that we read he received the ultimate rejection, humiliation, and physical exhaustion of carrying His own cross. My personal momentary discomfort on that same road seems so very small but stands out in my mind as the most meaningful understanding of what it meant for Jesus to bear my cross for me on that day.  

What can I do in response? 1 Peter 2:21–24 tells me exactly what to do. We are reminded, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

Will you join me in this response? Will you accept the call for this purpose? 

When we follow Jesus’ example and follow in His steps, we are trusting in His righteousness to carry us through to the very end. And we get to say, “By His wounds, we are healed.”

Questions for Thought

  1. Can you think of a time when you felt rejected, disrespected, or hurt? How does that affect your view of what Jesus experienced as He carried His cross down the Via Dolorosa?
  2. In what ways can you follow Jesus’ example today?

Daily Challenge

The next time you feel disrespected or hurt, remember Jesus and find a way to initiate a gospel conversation.

Author Bio

Pam Brewer

Director of Women's Ministry

Pam is passionate about representing the women of the church and equipping them for ministry to one another, encouraging them in their own discipleship to expand for the kingdom of God. She and her husband, David, have two children, Ben and Natalie, and four grandsons.

Author in Israel