October 20, 2017

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Scripture

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5 with references in the Meditation to Matthew 4:23,24, Malachi 4:2, Matthew 9:20-22 NASB).

Meditation

Jesus lies in the street, again fallen and in pain. The crowd shouts and kicks dust. A few are weeping. They seem strong compared to him. Life courses through their bodies, while his ebbs away. Strange … some of these very bodies he’s touched and healed. Throughout Galilee he’s taught and preached and cured every sickness making a reputation so that even those in far away places come.

Now he is weighed down with all that has plagued them. Every sickness and disease, every pain and calamity to strike them is falling on him with violence.

It is one thing to be a healer, to look with compassion on the sick and suffering, to reach out a hand and release the divine power that will restore them to wholeness; it is another to hold out that hand and receive their crushing pains, their wasting diseases, every acute and chronic thing that makes them suffer and die.

But this is what he must do to save them – to join them in their guilt and in their sufferings – to enter fully into their humanity with the fullness of his divinity. It’s what the Father ordains. It’s what the Father has always ordained. That they are fallen into affliction means he must be there too. It’s where his people are.

No one can understand what is really happening. Jesus lies in the street so quietly. They can’t know as they stand hurling insults that he is instead receiving this one’s pain or that one’s malady. But then, no one has ever really known why he has come as he has, appearing first in a dirty stable as a curiosity to local shepherds and as the object of seeking sages.

Throughout his short time on earth, he’s rejoiced at their weddings and celebrated at their feasts. He’s met them in synagogues, at wells, on beaches, in fishing boats and at public stonings. He’s come into their houses of worship, their leper colonies, their marketplaces, their drinking places, their sinning places and their living places. He’s settled squabbles between sisters at odds over serving and disputes between disciples over wasted perfume. He’s appeared to them ghostlike on raging seas calming storms and fearful hearts. He’s sat among them on hillsides giving them fish for their bellies and bread for their souls. He’s interrupted their sicknesses with his healings, their burials with his weeping and their decaying flesh with his commands to live.

It’s why he has come – to be where his people are – in their living and in their suffering. They are fallen, they are sick and they are in pain – beset with every horrible malady that is the result of guilt – natural outcomes for the law of sin – slow, painful steps on their way to death. His people in their humanity have lived under the curse of decay and he is bearing it by his scourging, by the weight of his cross and by his death.

He has told them, showing them every step of the way and making it as plain as possible, why he has come. His mission is restoration – of relationship to the Father and to the fullness of life that was always intended for them. Some have believed. Some have dared to hope.

A woman once approached him in a crowd – less contentious than the rabble pressing him now, and grasped his mantle. It was a desperate move. She was weak from years of bleeding and had spent all of her money on doctors who never helped. When would she have another chance? When would he ever come her way again?

There in a crowded street on his way to another tragedy, he felt the power go out of him. Who touched me? But he knew. She was a woman with faith, one who reached as he passed for the tassels of his prayer shawl, holding on for the briefest moment.

Now, Jesus turns his head slightly and looks into the faces of the people shouting around him. A few would understand eventually, just as the bleeding woman did. Some would find their physical healings. Many would bear their sickness to death. For all who trusted him there was the promise they would find wholeness in eternity. He would soon rise as the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings.

But for now, pain and sickness, obscene and never meant for man, are his to carry. They can’t see it just now … they are looking for a crucifixion.

Action

Just as the bleeding woman fought crowds to come to Christ, I will seek him against all odds and in the midst of every difficulty. I will believe that he has power to heal me of all that being born human and sinful has brought, whether it is sickness of soul or sickness of body. And if I must bear these things until a more perfect healing, I will wait for the same grace evident in Jesus Christ as he carried sickness and suffering in his body. When I meet those who are sick and who suffer, I will extend compassion as I have received it from Christ.

Prayer

Father, you are wise beyond all wisdom. Indeed, you are inscrutable. Sometimes it’s so difficult to find meaning and goodness in things that hurt me. Yet, I know that even sickness and suffering bring fruit such as patience and compassion. I will boldly approach your throne of grace to received help when I am in need of these things.

Jesus, I thank you for carrying each of my sorrows and bearing all of my sicknesses. That makes me known to you and in a way no one else knows me. It makes you dear to me in a way no one else is dear.

Spirit, I ask that you expand my capacity for faith. I want to please you with my faith, with faith even to be healed against all odds.

Chorus

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.