It seems as of late, there has been something about Christ’s time on the cross that has just stuck with me.
It may be perhaps due to a great lesson I recently heard on the matter by Dan Winkler, but re-reading through the Gospels this past month has made it stick out like a sore thumb to me. While it might feel positively commonplace to say that His sacrifice is truly breathtaking after years of reading it. Still, there is just something specifically about His endurance while hanging from that cruel plank that moves me (as it should, no matter how often we return to it). Because as the (Hi)story goes, after hours of interrogation, humiliation, and torture, He was left up in that high position left to hang there to endure both more pain and ridicule. During this time, up in this high state, despite the challenges, the insults, the curses, and the cries to “come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:3), He was unwilling to budge. Unwilling to depart. Unwilling to come down.
Let’s skip ahead a few hours, shall we? Within the next few hours through the next few days, Jesus was confined in a lowly place. The lovely Jesus was brought low in death. As songs of old go, it seemed the treacherous enemy (death itself) had finally brought this great Man down. In fact, many times the phrase “Where he lay/Where they laid Him” is used during these moments, which in an insulting kind of way can mean, “to place down, to kneel before, or to surrender.” It seemed such a Man was brought down after all. But as we know, that’s hardly the end of the story.
Let’s catch up a bit. Lowly places seem to universally signify defeat. Being “down or low” always indicates one who has met their match or end, one who has bitten the dust, or one who has let their head down in defeat, and it’s not a pretty picture. In contrast, however, being brought high or lifted up seems to always indicate one who has triumphed or been made the pinnacle. But it goes without saying, standing high has never meant one who has made an easy choice. After all, I’m terrified of heights. After all, one on a pedestal is always the one most vulnerable or most transparent. And let’s not get started on the poor soul who happens to be the “king of the hill.” No, standing your ground, holding your head high, and staying up has never, not ever, been a casual affair. Rather, to be someone who has kept your dignity and remained calm during difficulty has always come with equal difficulty. One who struggled to stand as an example and shining light for a world which revels in the lower parts has always felt like a great struggle. When one tries to keep up, there will always be those who ridicule, insult, and attempt to pull down. Ultimately, how is one to keep from staying low in a world full of discouragement and humiliation that consumes the highest of pedestals?
How about this for a cliché? There once was a Man who was (out of necessity) brought down. No, not when they threatened, not when they pressured, not when they struck, and not when they laughed. But only on His terms. No, this was a Man who demonstrated above all else that one can and should stand tall, even in the lowliest of circumstances. And because He wouldn’t come down, He’ll forever be One who couldn’t be kept down.
Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. – 1 Corinthians 6:14