Just before sitting down to put together these few words, I happened to see a political commentary where the individual was mocking the other side of the divide in current worldviews as academically deficient – citing some research study to support his contention. But I have also heard the primary voices on the side being castigated in this article speak of the other groups as totally stupid, fully ignorant, and uninformed about American democracy.
There is no shortage of condescension on both sides. When people believe themselves to be correct on a particular idea, it is often natural to support that belief with ridicule and scorn for those who believe otherwise. It feels so affirming.
Understand, we should hold our faith beliefs strongly and with great conviction. After all, there are correct beliefs, with others that are simply errant. One leads to life, the other to death and eternal separation.
At the core of the difference is the way people see themselves. Those who are strongly resourced with the things of this world tend to find their support in those things. Jesus once pictured such a person coming to God as being about as easy as a camel getting through the eye of a needle.
Conversely, the genuine Christian comes from an entirely different starting point. Those who trust in Christ see themselves as weak and lost without the relationship to God that Christ supplies. They recognize their hopeless condition.
On the Via Delarosa, as well as at the cross itself, we see it again repeated that those who trust and believe are most often from the weakest in society. Whereas most of the disciples are in hiding, Luke says that a crowd of people followed Jesus on the way to the crucifixion. Were these mostly sympathetic to Christ, or were they curiosity seekers – following this story that had captured the interest of so many people? Without doubt, however, there were women who expressed their obvious connection to Jesus by “mourning and wailing.” Simple people … people who knew they were needy.
The words spoken by Jesus to them said that times would get worse before they would get better. The rejection of the Messiah meant a postponement of the kingdom. If the people would not believe when he was with them (green tree), they will certainly not when he is gone (dry tree).
And on the cross, a nearby criminal sees his hopeless condition and calls out to Jesus for salvation.
At the same time, those in power and authority mock Christ openly. They did not see themselves as needy in any way.
Before any of us could be saved, all of us needed to understand that we were lost. We may not have been as close to the social bottom of the barrel as the women, or a sinful criminal of the sort as was on the next cross to Jesus, but spiritually speaking we are totally lost without Christ. And then, being found, we must remain humbly in awe of the great love that came looking for us in our helpless condition. True faith is never proud; it is ever humble.
Luke 23:26 – As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ [Hosea 10:8]
31 “For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”