If You are the Son of God,
Come Down From the Cross
What a gripping scene in Matthew 27:40-44 Jesus, nailed to the cross, apparently powerless suffers solitude, abandon, hatred. Why did He not come down from the cross if He were truly the Son of God? Why not this visible miracle? Why this absolute silence on the part of God before a deceived crowd which would have been astounded if He had come down from it? It would have acclaimed Him like a movie star!
At the depth of His distress, His humiliation, Jesus endures another terrible onslaught of the enemy by means of the religious leaders. For them the power of God had to manifest itself by the spectacular descent of the Lord from the cross. If God loved His Son, let Him come down from there! They refused to believe and to understand the Scriptures which witnessed all through the Old Testament of the glory of God in Christ through His incarnation, His humanity and His divinity, of His shameful and atoning death. No, they demanded miracles (IICor. 1:22). They ignored this "it must needs be of the sufferings of Christ before entering into His glory (Luke 24:26). They had a faulty view of the Eternal, of His character and of His attributes. Tradition held them captive and blinded them in their understanding of the Scriptures. For them God owed it to Himself to prove His power and His love in delivering His Son from the shame of the Cross. This was to ignore the design of God.
Let us imagine for a moment this scene at the cross: the crowd, the religious leaders, even the thieves,' no one had understood the way of Christ's sacrificial obedience. They wonted to see in order to believe, like Thomas (John 20:24-29). Today nothing has changed. The same spirit reigns. Whatever partakes of the sensational, the visible, success, in brief, the glorification of man, attracts.
We must avoid a trap triumphalism. The modern world has passed from the micro' to the "macro. We see things on a larger and larger scale. What is little and insignificant is contemptible and poorly received. People aim for "works of power," for striking miracles, for refined sentiments, for visions which show us the road to triumph. We are in danger of bypassing fullness in Christ. We must apply the theology of the cross, of suffering as we follow the example of Christ on the road of renunciation and sacrifice (I Peter 2:21). This is what we have been called to. If the grain of wheat does not fall info the ground and dies, it remains alone,' but if it dies. it brings forth much fruit (John 1224ff).
God's silence at the cross of Calvary has said more and achieved more in the end than if God hod miraculously delivered Jesus from the cross. No. "it must needs be" that He went through the horrible abyss of sin which He bore because of our sins. He died to redeem us In deep and respectful adoration we look ~o the Father to praise Him for His infinite love.
The Lord also wants to be on example for us so that we might take courage in our earthly course which is sometimes very difficult. In this view, suffering, afflictions and weakness of which the apostle Paul speaks in 1 Cor.12:6~O are necessary for us so we might advance in sanctification. Let us not forget that God 5 pleased to make His work go forward by His children submissive to His Person and to His Word, no matter what the road He sets before us. The power of God can then act through His feeble servants. We will then be powerfuily strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being roofed and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and hejght -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with oil the fullness of God (Ephes. 3: 16-19).
Editor's Note. Translated from the French and reprinted with permission from Promesses (1989/2. Numero 88). C P.21, CH-1802 Corseaux. Switzerland.