Three falls

No original reflection from me today – it feels like everything that can be said about Good Friday has already been said.  Instead I’ll share with you three beautiful sonnets from Malcolm Guite’s Stations of the Cross (  The three poems and stations I found particularly moving when I read them are the three times Jesus falls under the weight of the cross.

III Jesus falls the first time

He made the stones that pave the roads of Zion
And well he knows the path we make him tread
He met the devil as a roaring lion
And still refused to turn these stones to bread,
Choosing instead, as Love will always choose,
This darker path into the heart of pain.
And now he falls upon the stones that bruise
The flesh, that break and scrape the tender skin.
He and the earth he made were never closer,
Divinity and dust come face to face.
We flinch back from his via dolorosa,
He sets his face like flint and takes our place,
Staggers beneath the black weight of us all
And falls with us that he might break our fall.

VII Jesus falls the second time

Through all our veils and shrouds of daily pain,
Through our bruised bruises and re-opened scars,
He falls and stumbles with us, hurt again
When we are hurt again. With us he bears
The cruel repetitions of our cruelty;
The beatings of already beaten men,
The second rounds of torture, the futility
Of all unheeded pleading, every scream in vain.
And by this fall he finds the fallen souls
Who passed a first, but failed a second trial,
The souls who thought their faith would hold them whole
And found it only held them for a while.
Be with us when the road is twice as long
As we can bear. By weakness make us strong.

IX Jesus falls the third time

He weeps with you and with you he will stay
When all your staying power has run out
You can’t go on, you go on anyway.
He stumbles just beside you when the doubt
That always haunts you, cuts you down at last
And takes away the hope that drove you on.
This is the third fall and it hurts the worst
This long descent through darkness to depression
From which there seems no rising and no will
To rise, or breathe or bear your own heart beat.
Twice you survived; this third will surely kill,
And you could almost wish for that defeat
Except that in the cold hell where you freeze
You find your God beside you on his knees.

Blogging through Holy Week [5] – What happened that day?

What happened that first Good Friday? Well, the biblical account of the Passion is quite simple – Jesus was handed over to the Romans from the High Priests who then whipped up a crowd to call for his death. Pilate eventually gives in to the pressure and gives him over to be crucified until he is dead.

But what happened? Was sin forgiven? Was the sin of the world undone so that the world could be reconciled to God? Was some sort of price or debt paid? Was an ancient rite (passover or atonement) truly fulfilled?

I think before we can make any theological conclusions about Jesus’ death we have to be quite straightforward about what happened that day – MURDER. Human beings took God’s own Son, God Himself incarnate upon the earth and they killed Him in a most brutal fashion. God came amongst us, and we couldn’t handle what He said and did, so we did what came most naturally to us – we did away with Him.

And what is Jesus’ response to this? Well, we read (in other gospel accounts) that He forgave those who had tortured and killed Him. This wasn’t forgiveness before He was killed, or after He was killed, but right in the middle of the long, slow death of crucifixion.

Even if we draw no more theological conclusions from the crucifixion, this is frankly STUNNING. God comes to dwell amongst us in human form, we abandon, deny, betray and reject him and we murder him on a cross. And He forgives us for doing it!

This is who God really is: the God who dies for us, indeed is killed by us, but Who forgives us even as we’re doing it.