Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the king
But He chose to walk that road
Out of His love for you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary
Words and music by Billy Sprague and Niles Borop
Blood. Pain. Sorrow. Death. What does it all mean? Why was it necessary? Can we fully understand it? Will we ever?
The cross of Christ is the central event in the Bible, and, indeed, in human history, yet much of it remains shrouded in mystery. Even those of us who have known about the cross all of our lives still find ourselves sometimes staring at the familiar images and wondering why. We know that sacrifice solves the problem of sin. Somebody has to pay. If it’s not the perpetrator, then it’s someone else liked a bull or a ram or a lamb or a goat. But why?
A desire for justice is certainly a big part of it. When we see a gross evil committed on innocent people we want someone to pay. We want justice to be done. Something has to be put right. The cross is God putting it right with the whole human race. In God’s book it had to be done or trash the whole project. But because He loves us — because He put loving care into each one of us and every inch of His creation — He provided a way to redeem it. “God so loved the world that He gave His only son…” It’s why Jesus is the only way. No other person and no other plan can fully deal with the sin, evil and injustice in the world. It’s not God being arbitrary; it’s God being just.
If God is going to set the record straight, it has to start with us and our own sin. Justice is fine with us until it comes our way. Then we have to pay, and what a relief to know that someone else has already paid for us. The bulls and lambs and goats were just stand-ins — sacrifices until the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus could be made on the cross, and now that it is done, “It is finished,” as He said.
Can you imagine the priests of old daily slaughtering innocent animals on behalf of the sins of the people? Wouldn’t that have gotten a little old? Can’t you just see one of those priests raising his sticky hands to heaven on a day when this all got out of hand, and crying out, “Will you please stop all this sinning!” No. We can’t. No one can. We are all in the grasp of sin, and nothing can free us but a payment on our behalf.
Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! We can’t stop sinning, but the sacrifices can end because Jesus was the final sacrifice — the perfect Lamb who made the final payment for your sin and mine, indeed, for the sins of the whole world. God counts this death as payment in full. And He did it all for love.