That was a refrain I heard a lot as a child. My Mom standing at the bottom of the stairs, yelling up to me in my room Come down now! Whether it was for dinner, or chores left undone, or simply to chase me out of the house for a few hours, that was a constant refrain of trying to extricate me from my room. I was usually reading or painting or day dreaming (this is pre-internet and pre-cable television days - dating myself, I know.....)
Jesus is taunted by that phrase in today's Gospel passage. Passers-by as well as the chief priests yelled up to Jesus on that cross: You said you were King of Jews.....You saved others, save yourself....You said you would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, but you can't save yourself!...Come down now! And yet Jesus stays silent, bearing the weight of his cross, staying up there. I am certain that if he and God wanted to, he could have come down from that cross at any moment of his choosing...but he chose not to. Rather he chose to bear it, to complete the task set for him.
I have often wondered if some of those taunts weren't so much taunts as pleas for him to save himself and thereby his followers as well: come down now please, save yourself as you saved others.....don't leave us! All of us have faced situations (hopefully not as dire as Jesus' today) where we have had friends, family, acquaintances, ask us to halt from the course we have set, to put down the cross that we have taken up, to come down now from what we have taken up doing. I have found most of those requests come from a place of concern for my well-being, or at least their impression of what my well-being should look like. Jesus sets a different model for us today. We cannot answer the taunts or the pleas to Come down now if we are certain that the cross we are bearing, the hill we have agreed to climb, is what we have discerned to be what God wants us to bear, where God wants us to be. This can be a hard and lonely choice, and perhaps not always the right one, because, after all, none of us are the Messiah. But if we have that certainty, that knowledge deep within us, that what we are doing is the right thing, then we cannot Come down now. We can only do that when we are done.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.