The Via Dolorosa, or the “way of suffering”, is the path, according to tradition, that Jesus took to the cross on the day of his crucifixion. His literal carrying of his cross most likely involved moving 100-300 pounds across a half mile stretch after being beaten to within an inch of his life. This was an impossible journey that had Jesus incapable of bearing the burden, and his cross was (forcibly) taken up by Simon, the Cyrene (Matthew 27:32). Jesus carried the weight of the cross until there was nothing left in him; however, his path to Golgotha, to pay for the sins of all mankind, did not start at the Lion’s Gate on the day of his death, but it was an everyday consideration that was revealed to him by God.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. – Mark 8:34-35
Jesus predicts his death moments/verses before, and knowing how his story would play out, he most likely thought of His own literal cross he would bear on a daily basis. He uses it as our example for the daily battle to call ourselves his disciples. We must deny our hopes, our will, our thoughts, our opportunities, our deepest desires, and stand alongside him on the Via Dolorosa – the way of suffering – and follow him. It is a hard, burdensome journey to put ourselves to death (1 Cor 15:31) and be crucified alongside him (Gal 2:20).
BUT the difference is Jesus no longer carries his cross. He died once and for all and now lives so you can count yourself as one who will receive the same promise (Rom 6:10-11). Just as Simon, the Cyrene, helped Jesus bear the burden of the physical cross, Jesus stands waiting to help us bear the things we cannot. He makes our yoke easy, and our burdens light (Matt 11:30); he constantly is inching our cross towards the place he has prepared, not the Place of the Skull, when it seems we cannot journey no further. Without Him or God’s grace, it would be a crushing weight, and we would be doomed to fail.
We count our momentary sufferings as loss, because even in suffering we have Christ, and access to God, our Father. Those who do not have him suffer alone, are crushed alone, and die alone. There is no hope from the crosses they choose to bear. They lead to a death without hope, eternal destruction and separation from the God who desperately loves them and allowed His son to suffer so that we might live. Today, tomorrow, and every day that we have an inch of life or more, we must take up the cross and follow him, knowing He has and will bear the weight when we cannot.