I was looking through some images the other day and came across this one.
This image is of a muscular Jesus ripping the cross and coming off in a Hollywood ending type script. Obviously this is coming from a knuckle head but let’s play this out for this edition of What if Wednesday.
What if Jesus came off the cross.
In 2007 I had the honor to play Jesus Christ in our churches Easter play. For those that don’t know me I’m a very passionate person and no matter what I’m doing I’m giving it 100%. The same is true when I’m acting. “Getting into character” has a whole new meaning when you are playing the son of God.
The reason I bring this up is because I’ll never forget the scene I played which was in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed so passionately his sweat was compared to dropping like drops of blood.
Matthew 26:36-46 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!
Luke 22:39-46 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Mark 14:32-42 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
This was a difficult scene for me, I had to get it right. After my first performance my dad, who knows the Bible like Obama knows change, corrected part of my monologue. In my Garden of Gethsemane scene I included the word ‘please’ while in my prayer. My dad said, “Jesus never said ‘please’. You need to take that word out.” My dad’s point was Jesus didn’t beg to the Father. He was a willing participant in saving the world through his death. What I have been taught growing up and what I experienced playing Christ is how much of a sacrifice Jesus went through for us. Jesus’ greatest act wasn’t dying on the cross, it was not coming off the cross.
This would not work in Hollywood. It would not work in America. We are all about the underdog. If we were there, we would be hoping that the man hanging on the cross would call down the Angels of Heaven and PROVE he was the son of God. Think of Jesus looking at his mother, maybe other’s He loved so much, seeing them weep, hoping that He would come off the cross. Jesus didn’t and died that day.
The disciples were scared, stayed in hiding the next few days, I imagine that some may have doubted that He was the son of God because He was now dead. Anytime we think about the underdog or a story like Rocky our blood starts pumping and we can be world changers. How ironic is it that choosing to follow what His Father wanted (dying on the cross) is what saved the world.
Dying on the cross was the most anti-climatic act to close out a story but that’s not the end of the story! Jesus rose again and as much as His followers may have wanted a grand “I told you so” moment for everyone that doubted, Jesus wanted them to go out and share the good news to those that took his life.
Jesus could have come off the cross and ruled with an iron scepter. He could have overthrown the Roman Empire and mocked the Jewish leaders for their disbelief.
But He didn’t. He loved us too much.