There was a major media event scheduled into the origins of Easter. Highly visual and crowd inducing, this media event was the walk of Christ to the place called “the Skull.” Luke 23 in the Gospels describes this walk, and history has immortalized this gawking part of Easter with the name the Via Dolorosa – the way of suffering.
Jesus was being punished for the sins of the world, and the Via Doloroso, located in what is now Jerusalem’s Old City, was the broadcast route for that journey. Rome ruled Jerusalem, and those sentenced to death were marched in the most public way to remind these subjects what would be the fate of guilt. The bloody walk to death on a cross was a spectacle designed to instruct. Because Jesus had been whipped by the torture tool of leather, sheep bones, and metal, his body was unable to bear the 75 pound heavy cross beam of the torture tool. Soon onto the Via Dolorosa, the Cross was carried by a stranger plucked from the crowd, anyone could be vulnerable to pain.
I have only been once to the Via Dolorosa in 2012, with my husband Vern on a Context TV and Tyndale University tour group. The narrow, crowded, shop filled streets that are the Via Dolorosa struck us in how Jesus’ walk to the cross took place amid the market place of Christ’s day. We hurried through the Dolorosa on a tour guide schedule and it remains one of those walks where we remember, “we need to do it again, but next time we’ll do it differently…”
And now we have our second chance. This Easter, we find ourselves meditating through a soul walk on the Via Dolorosa. Vern and I are in circumstances which have deeply altered our independence and we are thinking very differently about what Christ’s physical suffering means for our lives. Christ identifies with the pain we feel on our journey of Vern’s Parkinson’s Disease. This fourth year of the disease is our life adjusting year and I am in my last weeks of working on Context TV, and making media for the public. As I resign from this role, the story unfolding next is for us to reshape our lives to respond to the weakness that disease brings, it’s a story every human family encounters, sooner or later.
These COVID-19 corona virus bound days of Easter 2020 are a media spectacle, dripping with tragedy and pain- filled fear. We ache for a different journey. Yet this fallen state we live in is exactly at the core of Easter; our bodies and their death do not have the final word, God does. Easter is the biblical story which holds the truth that God is resurrecting the weak human state to a new world of God’s created perfection. It seems antiquated to cry “Jesus, save me” but that is the core of the Easter story, and if needed, physical pain will chase us there.
The glorious joy of Easter morning is the shout of victory, Christ in us will overcome all death.