Churches Together on Blackheath, Good Friday, 6th April 2009
Jesus Christ is both God and Man. The Bible tells us that ‘He was tested at all points like we are, yet without sin’
When somebody falls over in the street, as Jesus did on the way to Calvary they experience three sensations, each of which begins with the letter ‘H’. So they feel:
l Hurt l Humiliated l Helpless
If you and I want to be the Followers of Jesus (or ‘Christians’) in any real sense of the word, then it’s reasonable to expect that it will sometimes be our Heavenly Father’s vocation for us that we should share in His Son’s sufferings. Not, let us pray, suffering in the way, or to the extent that Jesus had to endure. Of our sufferings, St Paul said ‘God is faithful, and will not allow you to be tested beyond your endurance’. But, perhaps for reasons which He alone knows, or sometimes for our own good, our Father in Heaven will allow us to be Hurt, Humiliated, and Helpless.
It was St Paul who also said ‘Let the mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus’. So when trouble and suffering come, we should turn our mind’s eye towards Jesus, falling over on His way to Calvary – the ‘Via Dolorosa’ (which was, also His Path to Glory) – and learn from Him what our response to our suffering should be.
He was hurt: – but He was not resentful. He didn’t say, ‘why should this happen to me? It is true that He did beseech His Heavenly Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, that the cup might pass from Him, but His prayer ended with the words ‘not My will but Thine be done’
He was humiliated: Few things look more ridiculous than a man falling flat on his face, physically or morally. We’re made to walk upright; falling over reduces us the level an animal. However much pity His Mother and friends felt for Him when He fell over, other, less sympathetic spectators, doubtless enjoyed a good laugh. But their Victim prayed for their forgiveness, rather than making excuses for Himself (or blaming someone else) because, He said, ‘they just don’t know what they are doing’.
He was helpless: With the weight of the crossbeam on top of him He couldn’t move. He needed someone like Simon of Cyrene to help Him back onto his feet. But, unlike you and me, he accepted the ministrations of those who helped him, rather than trying to prove to Himself that He could manage without them. We should learn by His example to acknowledge our need for, and be ready to accept, the goodwill and ministration of others!
Like the Captain of our Salvation, we Christians shall sometimes be Hurt, Humiliated and Helpless. So let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, who accepted His Father’s will, even though for Him it meant death, death upon a Cross.
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