Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
Tradition says that Jesus succumbed to his physical degradation, falling three times on his slow and daunting slog toward the place of the skull where he would be killed. At the seventh station on our journey with Jesus to the cross we meditate on the second time Jesus falls.
As when Jesus fell for the first time, we so starkly confronted with his humanity, weakness, and the ways in which he is like us as he buckles under the weight of the wooden beams and dehumanizing spectacle.
In the same way that we recall positive experiences as anchor of hope, in Jesus’ weakest moments we can flash back to one of his strongest moments. We recall Jesus’ persistence in his pursuit of holiness, obedience, and embeddedness within the earth community through the act of God becoming human and the resistance Jesus meets in the desert.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against the stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Maybe Jesus remembered this encounter with temptation as he stumbled toward his execution. Much to the confusion of both those who followed him and those who despised him, Jesus never seemed to live into the expectations that others had for him. Instead, he embraced a life fully immersed in the Spirit and modeled a way in which humanity can beautifully inhabit the divine. St. Irenaeus wrote that “God became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.” Similarly, St. Athanasius wrote that “God became man so that men might become gods.” Everything Jesus endured in his humanity was for the sake of humanity gaining the ability to recognize, see, and participate in the activity and being of God. That was the only expectation Jesus had for himself and he lived into it fearlessly.
In his conversations with his disciples and others, Jesus is transparent about the difficulty in being a follower of the Way. He tells them that aligning their identity with his will sometimes bring you opposition and challenges to your convictions. Jesus has the uncanny ability to be all things to all people, and not always in a good way. Invoking Jesus can be both liberating or an act of quarantine. Sometimes the challenges and oppositions experienced for following Jesus take the form of questions like, “Where do you find that in the Bible?” Or maybe statements like, “But the Bible says…”, and uncertainties regarding how biblical your actions or beliefs are.
At station 7 we wish for our falls, failures and disruptions to be at the expense of imitating Jesus: in trying to recognize, see and participate in God’s activity and being wherever it leads us. Jesus makes it clear that we will fall, but falling is part of the journey toward the cross.
Prayer: God, may I find strength in weakness. May my falls be the result of risking and denying myself in love for that which you love and call holy.