Good Friday Homily: Why Didn't Jesus Get Off the Cross?

It is a quite legitimate Question

If you know well the story of the crucifixion, then you understand that many said to Jesus: “If you are the son of God, then get yourself off the cross.” They would laugh and mock Jesus.

There is a legitimate question. If Jesus is the Son of God, why did he not get himself off the Cross? Why did he not offer a defense? You can answer that he had to go through all that to save us. You would be right but there would have to be more to the answer.

In fact, there is: Many people said to him that if he is the son of God, he could prove it to everyone by getting himself off the cross. You can imagine that scenario because not only would he get off the cross, it would be so shocking the whole crowd would scatter including the Sanhedrin. It would shake Pilate to his core, especially since he washed his hands of the whole affair. Finally, there probably would be some form of imbalance of power that would change the whole political structure of the Temple and maybe even force Pilate to be recalled. Already, he was on thin ice with Rome because of other rebellions that happened in Israel with the Jews.

However, Jesus does none of this and why? For one simple reason. He was being obedient to the Father. Many gave him a whole slew of reasons to come off the cross. They may have promised they will return to Synagogue once they see that sign. They may have promised that they will become his greatest followers if he got off the cross. They would change their lives, become good Jews and never look back to their former way of life.

Hear this homily as it was delivered

Still, Jesus did not get himself off the cross.

Why? Because he was completely obedient to the Father. This was more than obedient to following an order. He was obedient to his whole plan of salvation to his wisdom, love and truth. He was completely obedient to an understanding of reality that is bigger than humans can understand. He humbled himself before the father. He denied himself, embraced his will and obeyed a force greater than all of us: pure truth, pure justice, pure holiness, pure love.

 In our human understanding, Jesus getting off the cross may actually have made sense. After all, he did great miracles that led people to understand who he is. We might figure that this was the way to have everyone embrace Christ. After all, how could they argue with a man who got himself off the Cross in possibly a blaze of glory?

Remember, Jesus himself would have been happy to do it too. It was truly a temptation to him. How do we know? Because he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that there would be another way to carry out his mission. He, however, had to be obedient to Father for his mission to happen.

St. Maximus the Confessor explained that what we see on the Cross is the devil throwing everything at Jesus to get him to break the two commandments to love God and neighbor. This was how we were saved by him living the commandments perfectly. He had to be obedient to a higher understanding greater than our ability to comprehend. Had he got himself off the cross, he would have been disobedient to the Father and we would have been lost. In our minds, it would have made sense, but that is exactly the problem. God is God, we are not. We understand our world as humans. God understands our world as God. When we are obedient to Him, we bow to a greater wisdom than we can understand on our own.

So why does the devil do this? Because he knows what is at stake. He knows more than you and I do what is at stake. Jesus also models for us the power of total obedience to the father.

Our Lord does everything understanding the deeper call the deeper vision of the father and that gives his reason for obedience. Our whole life is spent learning how to deepen our vision of faith so that we may do the will of the father and glorify His name in all we do. When we don't reach out for that level of understanding then we fall back to do what makes sense in our human vision but it is not the will of the father. This is always the struggle between those who believe in those who don't it's a struggle between human wisdom and divine wisdom.

You and I have a mission to testify to the Divine wisdom but we can only do that if we are obedient to the Father which at times does not make sense in human wisdom but it does in Divine wisdom. Coming here to venerate a sculpture of a man crucified on a piece of wood makes absolutely no sense in human terms.

The whole process made no sense to Pilate that's why he just washed his hands of the incident. But both the devil and all the hosts of Heaven understood how powerful that moment is and how powerful this image is. We can only understand it through The eyes of faith. Yet, through the eyes of faith, we understand to profound levels what it means for us. The eyes of faith give us a deeper understanding of all the reality in which we live. The eyes of faith teach us a whole different way of understanding how we interact with others. The eyes of Faith put us at odds with those who only focus on reason without faith.

What we are doing right now makes no sense to anyone who does not believe. However, what Jesus did in the first place made no sense to them either. Our role is to understand why this makes sense and to testify to that truth that is deeper than you and I can comprehend alone without the eyes of faith.

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Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash