Station VII: Christ Falls the Second Time
Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. (Psalm 142:6)
The road to Golgotha seems endless. Even though Simon of Cyrene now bears the weight of the Cross and Jesus has received relief from Veronica’s act of mercy, he is wracked once more with pain and falls to his knees. All around him, the jeering mob. Mocking voices. Bitter words. Always, the same refrain. You saved others, why not save yourself! Their taunts wound. You trust in God? Let him deliver you. Their gibes strike home. If you’re the King of the Jews, show us your power!
A constant buzzing in his head. And snatches of the Psalms. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head. O God to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows and destroy them. Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low. Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
There is nothing so hard to endure as being misunderstood and misjudged, to know you are right when others accuse you of being wrong. The desire to clear your name and get back at those who have injured you is very human. We want to see justice done and wrong-doers punished. Look up the word “vengeance” in a Bible concordance, and it runs like a black thread through the Old Testament.
Jesus has a very different message for humanity. He tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We are not to judge, lest we, ourselves, be judged. On this day in history, when the most blameless of victims experienced injustice and humiliation in ways few of us will ever endure, he still had the strength to ask God to forgive his persecutors “for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”
As the lash of a Roman whip bites into his back, Jesus struggles to his feet and walks further along the Way of Sorrows.
When I can only think of my own hurts, show me the ways in which I hurt others. Let me forgive, even when I am not forgiven. Amen.