I do not like icy streets. They turn walking into an adventure where falling is a real possibility. I guess what I really do not like is falling. Finding yourself on the ground is rarely a good result. The vantage point from the ground is usually not a good one. The world tells us that the ground is where losers are found. Boxers rarely win from the canvas.
To Fall is Human
We know that Christ was weak and in pain during His journey to Calvary. He had been scourged then was carrying a heavy cross to add to His compromising situation. Falling as He did, was certainly a most normal and human thing to experience given what had happened to Him. As people who have fallen physically, spiritually, and in many other ways sometime during our lives, we may even say that we are nowhere closer to Christ than when contemplating Him on the ground. The Master who washed feet like a servant is now on the ground, where we have so often been in so many ways.
Believe it or not, there are scholars out there who have studied the phenomenon of falling. These folks conclude that there are three kinds. The most common type is falling down. However, there is also falling out; as in falling out of contention with a group or a relationship. The final kind is falling up. This occurs when we mess things up and end up better off. Sometimes messing up the status quo is the best way to move to a better situation.
The Theology of the Tumble
Theologians speak of “The Fall” in Genesis 3 as more a downward and outward fall caused by a misguided effort to find the upward variety. The fallen angels led by Lucifer thought that they could mess up the status quo and end up in a better place. The status quo was serving and obeying God, and the better place was becoming gods themselves. As a result of this misguided, distorted effort, these outcasts fall down to hell and out of a relationship with God forever.
In fact, are not all sins from Adam and Eve, to Cain, to Herod, to the Pharisees, all the way to us, merely the same situation? Do we not somehow imagine or fool ourselves into believing that we can end up in a better place as our own god, by simply scrambling the status quo of our faith in obeying and serving The Almighty? When we sin, do we not fall down morally and fall out of a relationship with God until, hopefully, we get up and go to confession?
Christianity is Not About Falling But Rather…
As Christians we tend to be terrified of falling. We spend much of our effort trying to avoid falling or coming up with excuses when we do fall. However, the ultimate irony here is that being a Christian is more about getting up and moving forward than falling. When Peter and Judas fell, one got up despite the humiliation and allowed his love for Christ to turn defeat into victory. The other wallowed in his fall, humiliation, and shame and allowed his love for himself to turn temporary defeat into eternal defeat. Christ’s Divine Mercy promises us that all falls are temporary if we struggle and care enough to drag our defective, clumsy selves up again in relentless love. Christ is the reason to get up again when we can find no other reason to bother. Christians earn their battle scars upon rising from the ashes of their humanity and sin not from tip toeing around life avoiding the inevitable falls of being human.
So Why Did Christ Fall?
Ultimately, we can conclude that Christ’s physical falls on the way to Calvary were due to His humanity. Unlike Our Lord, who is sinless and perfect, many of our falls are due to our sinfulness. The bigger question may be what we can learn from Christ’s actions after each fall. Despite having every excuse to give up and surrender on this world’s terms, Our Lord kept getting up to determine His fate on Heaven’s terms instead. If we relate the most to Christ when we find Him on the ground, then we honor Him the most when we get back up to continue serving Him and following His example. What better lesson can any Christian have than that?