Today is Good Friday.
Today is one of the most important days of the Christian calendar. It is a day of terrible, conflicting emotions, as we mark the day that Jesus was mocked, scorn, beaten, whipped, and finally nailed to the cross, and yet simultaneously look forward to the time he was resurrected and restored to Heaven. We remember how the people that surrounded him as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to cheers and cries of “Hosanna!” now brandish swords, the words on their lips now “Crucify him!”
It is a memorial of the suffering he subjected himself to for us, the torment people inflicted on him. It is a time to remember the disciples that were shown many signs of his power and compassion, yet in this dark hour still fled, and the one that betrayed him.
His last hours are told in this way in Matthew 15:33:
At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now, leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The power of the act of sacrifice for us is almost beyond description or comprehension. Everything in the Old Testament tradition lead to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with humanity, from the early laws laid out for God’s exclusive people, to the salvation promised for all mankind. However, hopelessness and despair reigned as the supposed Son of God and king of salvation was put to horrible death by the oppressors the people had imagined Christ had come to rescue them from. Today let us contemplate both exactly what God has done for us through the cross, and what the disciples and followers went through as Jesus died for them.
Holy Father, we cannot imagine the depth of your suffering, as you were subjected to terrible punishment and abuse, before finally being put to death on the cross. We remember the sacrifice you made for us, even as we struggle to comprehend just how much it truly means. Though we sin, we are saved by your grace. Today we hold in our hearts the knowledge of all you have done for us, and work to better be your hands and feet in the world around us. You came to earth so that we may be saved, may we work to be the light in the world in your absence, until we may see you again. In Christ’s name, Amen.
*This year, our contemporary service is trying something very different with our Good Friday service. Instead of a congregational service, we’re meeting in home church services across the city in our local neighbourhoods. Sarah and I will be hosting our local home church, I talked about it in this post and hope to write more about the experience afterwards. A little nervous, but excited for the experience!