“If you are the Son of God, get down from your cross.”
Saint Matthew says the mockers said it as they passed by, wagging their heads and hurling insults like punches.
Who passes by a crucifixion? One can only think they came on purpose to mock, spit, humiliate. Did they know as they taunted that they tempted? Could they know this was the plan? He knelt, rocking, sweat mingled with blood as he prayed. “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But not what I want, but what You want.”
And so He stayed.
“He saved others; He cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross and we will believe him…”
These were the chief priests and leaders. These were the men that touted scrolls and begged questions, seeking to tangle him in the chords of the law, proving his unrighteousness. Here at last, though in jest, they ask for a sign to prove once and for all that he was the Messiah. They shrug to eachother with I-didn’t-think-so smirks. How could they know?
Twice He had asked if there was another way. Twice he found himself grieved even to the point of death. But, this was the way. He was to be given into the hands of sinners. Not what I want, Father, but what you want.
And so He stayed.
He stayed on His cross for six hours. Broken and bleeding, surrounded by those who hated him, by those who cheered to see his demise. It was no shallow suffering. These were no ketchup stained hands. There was no magic trick. And in the dark He cried:
“Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani! My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”
He quoted from the Psalms:
My God my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning?
Oh my God! I cry by day but you do not answer, by night, but I have no rest.
Yet, You are Holy.
And so he stayed.
He cried out.
He gave up his Spirit.
I find myself at the foot of His cross this Good Friday. This ministry of His did not make sense. His Jewish followers wanted a conquering King, parading the restored righteousness of Israel back through the gates. A King to cut down their oppressors. A King to give them back their land entirely. Instead, the Lord’s servant came. The man who healed, and was gentle and humble and meek. The despised and rejected of men.
When I look to the cross, I must bow my head, because I cannot bear to look. In the cross I see the white lies and the blood of the centuries, wars between brothers and gossip, refugees and rejectees, innocence lost and antidepressants. It tells me something true about this war torn world of ours that I don’t like to think of: We’re dying.
We are so afraid of death. When our grandparents get old, we hide them away in nursing homes so not to see their lives fade into death. Death makes a fool of all men, and we are not to be made fools of. So we create business markets with fast expanding profits aimed to make us live forever. We want Spring but never Autumn.
We find ourselves saying, Get down from the cross.
But did He not say: “Truly, truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.”
And so he fell to the ground.
The seed of David fell to the ground.
to be continued…
(Based off of Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Matthew 26-27)