I was really excited when Wendy [Heng, the general manager of The Garden of Remembrance and also my wife] told me that she had been tasked to establish The Way of the Cross, a new permanent installation of 14 sculptures at The Garden of Remembrance, and asked for my help with the writing for the plaques that were to accompany the sculptures.
The 14 Stations of the Cross, which commemorate Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man, has always been a common feature in the Catholic churches, but not so within the Protestant churches. That is unfortunate because Jesus Christ’s final moments on Earth is, without question, the most significant event in all of humanity’s history. It is through this very last journey Jesus took that all of humanity could receive God’s salvation.
While I was familiar with the events that led to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and eventual resurrection, the biggest fear I had while writing for this project was that I might dilute the message of His love.
I went to the Lord in prayer numerous times, seeking Him and asking Him for direction as I worked on the project, and it was in one of these prayers that God led me to the idea of writing all 14 stations as a seamless story that could be read with or without the support of the sculptures.
The Way of the Cross was written in a manner serves to remind all believers of Jesus’ extreme sacrifice and how much God loves us all. It also serves to tell the story of God’s love to pre-believers as they walk through the stations. The columbarium has a lovely chapel and beautiful memorial rooms that are used for wakes and funeral services, which inevitably bring together friends and families of the departed who may be pre-believers. Establishing the exhibit at The Garden of Remembrance makes it permanently available to everyone.
In the course of my research, God led me to Jim Bishop’s The Day Christ Died, which covers the last 22 hours of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth. 1 The book helped me gain a better understanding of what possibly transpired on that day, as well as of the suffering and humiliation that our Lord had to experience.
I was also led to Dr C. Truman Davis’ article, which provides a detailed medical description of the process of crucifixion: the pain the victim experiences, and how the body breaks down in the most horrific of ways in response to that extreme pain.2 I was reduced to tears by the heart breaking revelation of the extreme suffering that Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to bear in order to provide a path to salvation for us all.
Station two, “Jesus carries His cross”, and station 10, “Jesus is nailed to the cross”, were thus the hardest to write. Leaving out the gory details of scouring and crucifixion would have been a gross injustice to the suffering and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, but including these details meant I had to mentally visit and revisit His detailed torture.
I wept a lot as I wrote these two stations, but it wasn’t because of the pain of Jesus’ suffering—it was God’s overwhelming love that I felt over and over again.
The day our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified was a very dark day. But from that darkness rose the most beautiful and amazing love story ever told—that of the God who created the heavens and the earth, who is all powerful, yet chose to send His one and only Son to suffer and die in the most gruesome manner so that all His people could receive salvation.
Blessed in return
The level of intimacy I experienced with God over the two-week project is one that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I spent much time in prayer—just before the start of any writing session, numerous times in between, and whenever the writing of a plaque was completed.
I know the words that were written could not have come from me, as I am neither theologically trained nor write as a professional.
I pray and hope that everyone who visits The Way of the Cross will experience the richness of God’s love as I did.
1 Jim Bishop, The Day Christ Died (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1980).
2 C. Truman Davis, “A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” The Christian Broadcasting Network, https://www1.cbn.com/medical-view-of-the-crucifixion-of-jesus-christ.
Christopher Ng is the founder of a digital consulting agency. He worships at Cornerstone Community Church.
Photos courtesy of The Garden of Remembrance