Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 3They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
The long and winding road,
From the joyful crowds of Galilee,
To the cursing soldiers of Jerusalem.
Gradually the words and the song changes,
From the Beatles classic, to the old Victorian Hymn
‘There is a green hill far-away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified’.
I’ve always loved seeing God, faith issues generally, and in particular the Jesus story in popular culture. So I often find myself reading a book, listening to a song or watching a bit of telly and thinking, ‘that’s just like Jesus’. There are two great Beatles songs which for me light up Jesus’ path to the cross and then the desolation of crucifixion.
From the moment of his arrest in Gethsemane Jesus is on Crucifixion Road. He is alone, deserted and getting closer to the top of the hill all the time. My Beatles song to go with his journey is ‘The Long and Winding Road’. Jesus began this road a long time before. It looks as though about a year or so into his wandering Galilean ministry the idea of the cross and of its inevitability began to form in Jesus’ mind. At Caesarea Philippi he tried to share his ‘premonitory’ thoughts with his disciples but they never really caught on. For them the road to Jerusalem may have been something like a victory march but for Jesus it was the inevitable ‘long and winding road’ of destiny and his destiny was to be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of God.
In the passage we see him on the last leg of the journey: from the Priest’s house to Pilate’s palace; from the Roman Governor to the Roman Soldiers; from reasonable debate to mockery. A scarlet robe, crown of thorns, rod of reeds and derisory ‘Hail King of the Jews’ are all part of the final twist on the way. Then out on the road to the cross, with the horizontal beam of the cross on his shoulders. He stumbles on the last bit of the long and winding road, Simon of Cyrene helps him along the way. A crowd including many women follow him, a young woman jumps out to mop his brow. On and on he goes, solitary, stumbling and sweat soaked.
The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door
The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way
Many times I’ve been alone
And many times I’ve cried
Anyway, you’ll never know
The many ways I’ve tried
At last he has reached the end of the road. Golgotha, otherwise known as the ‘Place of the Skull’, which just about says it all.
- What sort of road are you on?
- And where is it leading to?
Dear Lord Jesus,
You walked your road,
The like of which I cannot imagine.
Today I have to walk my road,
May you accompany me, befriend me,
And lead me along it.