Stations of the Cross Three – Jesus Falls the First Time

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Image source: photographed at the San Gabriel Mission Museum.

Jesus falls for he first time.

The traditional station number three is Jesus falling while carrying the Cross to Golgotha. Biblically there is no specific verse in the Bible describing this. However, what can we say about Jesus condition by this point?

We know at Gethsemane, Jesus was in prayer and described in the various Gospel accounts as: “sorrowful and troubled” (Matthew 26:37) and “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:34). At Jesus arrest, “they seized him” (Luke 22:54) and “seized Jesus and bound him” (John 18:12). Probably it is not a stretch to suspect that “police brutality” was not unknown in those times either. While at trial before the Sanhedrin, “the men who were holding Jesus mocked and beat him” (Luke 22:63). While before Pilate, “plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head … took the reed and struck him on the head” (Matthew 27:29-30) and “having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).

Sketch of Roman scourge instrument, a wipe like weapon with bits of metal embedded in strips of leather.

flagrum9.jpg Image source: http://www.bible-history.com/past/flagrum.html

In the artwork, almost all people’s eyes are on Jesus. Undoubtedly, a mixture of impressions in the minds of the people. Some see Jesus as getting what he deserves. Others maybe puzzled as to how come such an extreme punishment for someone who doesn’t seem like any kind of military threat. While still others are saddened because they have been following Jesus or at least intrigued by what he was teaching. In all cases, they see him suffering – they see him fall down.

As Christians, we often focus on the divine power of Jesus in his healing of people and miracles. However, there is also the humanity of Jesus. How easy is it for us to skip over verses like “So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well.” (John 4:6). Jesus got tired and thirsty. And now as he carries the Cross to his death he is tired. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say he fell down while carrying the Cross but it would hardly be surprising. He prepared for this ordeal by praying the night before in Gethsemane. Undoubtedly, he is praying to the Father as he goes through it.

As so when we face difficulty, we too can pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus who fell down – who knows our frail humanity, helped by the Spirit who dwells within us.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
— Joseph Medlicott Scriven

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