May 06, 2021 Q & A

“Stations of the Cross”


What is the Reformed view of observance of the “Stations of the Cross”?


Your question is a good one.

We have to begin with the basic question of where do we look for answers to our questions? The apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16–17 tells us that the Scripture—the Bible—is sufficient to make us complete or mature Christians. In other words, we have to begin with the Bible and let the Bible be the guide and judge for all our ideas. This is why the Apostles Creed—professed by Christians all over the world—is simply reflecting and joining in one whole, key teachings of the Bible about God, the world, and us. Another example would be the gospel itself. What is the gospel, the good news of salvation? In Galatians 1 the apostle Paul tells us not to be mistaken or assume that every “gospel” is true or equal. He goes on to describe the gospel as God accepting a person who sins (and that is all of us) only by trusting in God the Son, Jesus, to atone or pay for their sins (see Gal. 2:16). There is no human effort or work which will save; only what Jesus Christ did is sufficient. So you see it is important to decide where we will look for our authority. That is our starting point.

Then we can come at your question about the Stations of the Cross. You may have noticed that Protestant churches which have crosses, do not, in general, depict Jesus on the cross. The cross is empty. It is empty because Jesus didn’t stay there. He was buried, and on the third day he rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from whence he came, and he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). His work was finished.

It is good to remember the suffering of Jesus for sinners, how He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21), but the Roman Catholic Church has gone beyond the Bible to make praying the Stations of the Cross or observing them a way of penance, and the idea of penance is that we can do something to win God’s favor. We can’t; the gap between us as sinners and a holy Creator is too great to be bridged by any act that we can do and must be done by God himself, humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:5–11).

So you don’t gain any merit with God by praying the Stations of the Cross, but, if you are trusting in Christ alone to save you from your sins, you can meditate on the Savior’s great love and sacrifice in dying in your place that you might be forgiven and have eternal life.

I hope this is helpful to you.



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