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Posted: March 23, 2012 12:00 a.m.

The way of the cross

After they arrested Jesus, they led him away and brought him to the high priest's house. Peter followed from a distance.
Luke 22:54 (Common English Bible)

"Follow me." The words rang in Peter's mind as he thought back to the first time he had met this remarkable man. And just as he had done three years ago by the sea and every day since, he followed Jesus.

He followed him through the streets in the dark behind his friend who was flanked by temple guards as they walked to the home of the high priest. Luke tells us that Peter followed at a distance.

Throughout my life, I have heard many criticisms of Peter for following at a distance. But Peter had been the one who had boldly stood up to the temple guards, who cut off the ear of the temple servant and now who followed at a distance, slinking through the darkness, stealthily following his friend.

Yes, Peter was the one who continued to follow Jesus into the courtyard, keeping his promise that he would never desert his best friend.

But even Peter, as the night wore on, denied knowing Jesus just as Jesus had foretold. But for now, Peter followed Jesus' footsteps through the streets. He walked the path that Jesus walked on the way to the cross.

What does that mean for us almost 2,000 years later? The streets are still there, still traveled, and we wonder if they look like they did in Jesus' day. Here in 21st century America, it is hard to imagine the scene. Our systems of justice are more civilized now. Criminals don't have to suffer on public display.

I wonder if Jesus had been arrested in this country, would he have waited in prison for years and years before being led to a lethal injection? Would his friends have demanded a mistrial or a pardon? The idea of suffering and dying on a cross, a normal form of punishment 2,000 years ago, is so foreign to us today that we find it hard to connect ... hard to see ourselves on the way to the cross ... even harder to walk the steps that Jesus walked that night of his arrest.

Time marches on, but we cannot forget the way of the cross. The way of the cross leads to suffering, to pain, to torture, to death and ultimately to life. Each Lenten season, we retell the story of Jesus' last hours on earth, from the garden, to the cross, to the tomb.
This year, many talented and gifted people have come together to create a journey called the Stations of the Cross.

This interactive journey takes the scriptures that tell the story of Jesus' trial and death and helps us relate to them in a contemporary way.

The free exhibit is hosted by Covington First United Methodist Church and is open to the public Sunday through Friday through Good Friday. For hours, see our website at www.covingtonfirst.org )

Come and walk the steps that Jesus walked on the way to the cross. Come and be changed forever.


Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at jan.mccoy@ngumc.net.

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