|photo by eliduke / flickr|
Jesus fell heavily a third time."
--Tradition of the Jerusalem Church
“Let us continue,” our tour-guide, the priest says. Pointing upward he says, “We come to what might be the strangest Station of them all. Jesus falls a third time.” It’s funny isn’t it, the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world, falls and falls and falls.
There was on old Gnostic heresy that is still with us. They kept saying he wasn’t really a human being like us. Flesh and blood. No, he just appeared to be like us. Flesh was sinful—God’s son could never be sinful flesh. Maybe this was one of the reasons that there are three fallings in the journey to the Cross.
Hebrews knew the Incarnation well. “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he was able to help those who are being tested.” (Hebrews 2.17-18)
If we look back on our journeys honestly we might just confess that there have been stumblings and falls and terrible wrong choices and sins galore. Three falls? Oh yes, we know about falls don’t we. So the Church helps us here with the holy reminder that sooner or later there will be a fly in our ointment.
That third fall of Jesus must have opened up his wounds and sores all over again. And when the old memories come back to haunt us—our wounds and sores break open again. We thought all this was over. Maybe we never graduate from the human race. Somebody said we are always forever in Junior High School. And most of us can remember those awkward years.
So Richard Rohr reminds us, “There must be, and if we are honest, there will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even
So what happens? Jesus slowly picked up his cross again and staggered toward Calvary. This was not the end. And what this Station says to me is that despite whatever glitches and falls we may have—our journey is not over either. We fall down and we get up and we fall down and we get up.
We know the end of the story. Even Calvary with all its terror and gore will not be the end. So Hebrews wrote toward of his book, “...since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” The writer of Hebrews talks about our struggles next. Our weariness and the times that we lose heart. And so he summarized, beautifully, “Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that wheat is lame may not be put out of jointed, but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12. 1-2; 12-13)
Looking up at this Station, some in our group brush away the tears. For we know deep in our hearts that this third fall and all of our fallings are not the end of the story. The one who fell on the way of the cross is with us all.
A good Benediction here just might be that wonderful poem by the African-American poet, Langston Hughes. The poem is entitled, “Mother to Son.”
“Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t be no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landins’
And turning corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’ honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”
--from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com