Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
What is going on in The Place of the Skull? On Palm/Passion Sunday, words were read which reflected why Jesus was ultimately riding into Jerusalem. By Friday, we see that Jesus has “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). What Jesus had set himself to face in death on a cross would have earth shattering ramifications.
Too often the church has fallen into the thinking that on the cross, Jesus was simply showing us something. For example, Jesus died to show how much he loved us, and he set for us an example of how to love others by sacrificing himself. Both of those understandings are true, but if that is all there is to Jesus’ death, then Christianity sounds bland, and we don’t face the particular horror of the crucifixion itself. Something more and deeper was also happening on the cross.
On the cross, Jesus was not simply showing us something. Something was actually happening. God was moving to remove the problem of sin that alienates us from God and one another. We tend to think of sin as an act, a specific misdeed, an error of omission or commission. This it is, but in scripture, there is Sin with a capital S. It is a singular human condition. The writer, Flannery O’Connor, put it this way, “Sin is not something we commit, it is something we are in.” Yes, all of us are in it.
The Good News of Good Friday is that in Jesus, God is taking upon himself the burden, the power of Sin and its awful consequences. At the cross, this power, Sin, our sin, is faced in all its depths and defeated. We are set free, delivered. To know that the plague of Sin effects all, makes us dare to call this day of gruesome death, “Good.”
On the cross of Christ, God was invading this earthly realm and destroying the powers and principalities that are against him. This is what lies behind Jesus’ cry from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
These days of social distancing and isolation can tend to be more silent. There is a human tendency to try to fill the silence with some kind of noise and activity. Over the years, I have discovered that we meet God in the silence. By nature, Good Friday is a silent day. Think of intentionally taking some time this day to sit in silence and ponder the amazing work of the cross of Christ.
God of all sorrows known,you endured human rejection,even to the death of your own Son.Put the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus,that we may walk his path of obedient love.In his name we pray: