The crowds yelled for Jesus to come on down from the cross. Likewise the religious leaders taunted him, “Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.” But they wouldn’t have. Spectacles create impressions that last about as long as cotton candy in your mouth. Then the crowds scream for more, bigger, better.
What a contrast with the impressions left by those willing to suffer for what they believe. Most of us know what it is to suffer. So, when we see people suffer when they could stop it simply enough (by no longer doing or saying what they believe), we cannot help but take notice. Thus we remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bishop Romero, the four nuns murdered in El Salvador, Jesus.
Of course we understand Jesus’ death theologically to be more than a martyr’s death, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. But there is that moment on the cross when people taunted him to come down from the cross, and we sense that he could have, but he did not. His “spectacle-less” death for what he believed has left an impression that has lasted 2000 years.
–Dr. Mitzi Minor
- For what are you willing to suffer?
- What kind of impression would our life have on people known to you?
- Who are the people who have made lasting impressions on you? What did they do?
- What do you think Jesus was feeling and thinking as these shouts filled the air?
How Do I Act?
- Plan for your church to get together and watch a movie such as The Mission, Romero, or The Hiding Place. Discuss the impressions the story makes on you.
- Read an account of the lives of great Christians such as Cloud of Witnesses by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Will Campbell’s Brother to a Dragonfly. Share your impressions with a friend.
- Jesus, Bishop Romero, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others, sacrificed their lives for faith. Rarely are we called to make such a sacrifice. But there are others sacrifices we can make such as time, money, ego-gratification, etc. Decide with your family, if you have one, on some sacrifice you can make for the next month (some examples: the money you would have spent on golf or clothes, Friday nights to serve at a soup kitchen, time with your kids instead of working extra hours for a promotion). At the end of the month, note the impression making these sacrifices has on you.
- Make an effort to attune yourself to recognize those who may be suffering. Take time to pray for them.