There are many falls on a pilgrimage. No one teaches us this more poignantly than Jesus. His humanity was on full display when He fell three times under the weight of the Cross, on His way to be crucified.
It’s both alarming and relatable to see the God-man fall and get back up again. He carried the heavy burden so that we can carry the light one. These falls are even memorialized in Stations 3, 7, and 9 of the Way of the Cross. But, would you be surprised to learn that the New Testament provides no clear reference to them?
It’s true – and I’m okay with that. For one, Jesus did many things that aren’t recorded in Scripture (John 21:25). Secondly, I think the three falls can be reasonably inferred from what we do see in Scripture. Jesus had already suffered significant physical and emotional trauma before He even started towards Golgotha. He sweat like blood (Luke 22:44). He was betrayed and abandoned (Matthew 26:48-49, 56). He was spit on, blindfolded, and beaten (Mark 14:65). He was scourged (Matthew 27:26). He was mocked and crowned with thorns (Matthew 27:29-31). Jesus must have been struggling to carry His Cross or the soldiers would not have asked Simon to carry it for Him (Mark 15:20-21).
As I consider the struggles in my own life, the fact of Jesus’ falling is powerfully instructive and inspiring to me. These events of His Passion have taught me so much that, biblical or not, I can’t help but believe them.
But There’s More
Recently, a good friend of mine asked me, “If you could use one word to describe your spiritual life, what would it be?” I said, “Tired.” Sometimes I think my whole spiritual and moral life can be summed up in the endless cycle of falling and getting back up again.
Fall. Get up. Fall. Get up. Fall. Get up.
It’s tiring! And on days when hopelessness creeps in, I think I’d rather either not fall, or not get up again. At least then the cycle would be over. I wouldn’t have to exhaust myself anymore. I wouldn’t have to try so hard anymore.
I poured all this out to my friend. He listened. He nodded. I could tell he understood. Then he spoke a powerful truth:
There’s more to your spiritual life, to morality, to being a Christian, than falling and getting back up again.
Behold the Man
This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me, at that moment, it was a revelation. Suffering can trick you into thinking that it’s all there is, and I was falling for it. As I prayed about it more, I realized that all I had to do was “behold the man” (John 19:5) to discover the truth of the matter.
Jesus’ Way to the Cross – and through the Cross to victory – was not solely made up of falling and getting back up again. Yes, He did that. But, Jesus also preached (Luke 23:28-31). He prophesied (Luke 23:43). He prayed (Luke 22:41-42). He cried (Hebrews 5:7). He healed (Luke 22:50-51). He served (John 13:3-5). He was strengthened (Luke 22:43) and defended (Luke 23:40-42). He forgave (Luke 23:34). He loved to the very end (John 15:13).
In this, Jesus teaches us how to walk our own Way, and in Him we learn that there is much more to life than striving. Yes, we fall. Yes, we get back up again. We should! But, with Jesus, we also rest. We listen. We learn and grow. We use our imagination and our unique gifts. We are strengthened and defended. We are humbled. We are forgiven. We are blessed. We are befriended. We love and are loved by Jesus. We are even victorious!
In Jesus, suffering cannot have the final say. In Jesus, there is always more to life – and I can assure you, there’s nothing more biblical than that.