Footsteps of Jesus 03

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Jesus Falls the First Time

John 21:24-25

As seen by John bar-Zebedee

Words fail to describe the agony of the scene you ask me to describe.

I look back on our three years with him. I was ambitious and wanted him to succeed so that I could succeed with him. James and I had so much to learn about what it was to truly be a leader. We failed so often, but he never gave up on us. That day is imprinted on my brain, especially that first fall to the ground.  Burdened with the cross, more than mere heavy beams of wood, and tired from the events of the night- goodbyes, betrayal, trials, mocking & beating– and now this cruel parade through the streets of Jerusalem, he fell heavily to the ground as if he carried the weight of the world, the weight of our lives on his shoulders, as he carried those heavy beams of wood.

He fell, blood pouring down his head from the crown of thorns, and down his back and legs from the whipping with the ‘cat o’ nine tails the Romans used. I thought that he would die there on the road! He lay there, quiet, almost in prayer. I remembered Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s servant, how he grew up in the Lord’s presence, and I remembered the many times Jesus slipped away to commune with his ‘Abba Father’ to be back in God’s presence again.

People were jeering at him as he fell. I looked at his precious face, he looked shocking, nothing to attract any to comfort him. He was indeed despised and rejected. It was such a pitiful sight, that those of us who knew him and loved him, even us, we turned our back on him. 

Then I remembered that it was our weakness he carried, our sorrows that weighed him down. I determined that I would look again into his bloodied and battered face, lying there on the ground before me. I would remember this day. I would never forget this public display of what a true leader of God looks like. It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief, and it was all for our sake, that people like James and I would truly know the meaning and cost of his success on our behalf.

He never offered a sound, even though the pain must have been unbearable. With a look up into the heavens, and a sidelong glance at me along the pathway, he gritted his teeth and rose up again, ready to take on the double burden of cross and our lives upon his shoulders.

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