A Homily for Good Friday
March 30, 2018
(Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 18:1-19:42)
It is a hard story to hear.
The intentionality of it all. The calculated betrayal of a trusted insider. The callous exchange of coin. Soldiers disturbing Jesus’ prayer with fire and weapon. The repeated denial of the one closest to him. A mock trial. A callous sentence of death. Hardened soldiers appointed. Thorns woven. A whip swung. Beams of wood cut and prepared. Nails collected.
The very hands that created, healed, raised, touched, and guided are pinned to a cross. The healer and miracle worker hung out to die. By the end of the account the creator-come-down lies hurriedly buried in a sympathiser’s tomb.
Is it any wonder Jesus borrowed the searching and despairing words of the Psalmist: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
To be sure, there were prophecies to look back on. Isaiah pointed to a suffering servant who moved from exaltation, through great suffering and death, and then back to exaltation. Read carefully and you will also see intention and purpose here.
We all like sheep have gone astray;
We have all turned to our own way,
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6).
The politicians, priests, and police are not the only ones with intention in this story. In these events there is also purpose in the heart of God.
Out of this anguish he shall see light…
The righteous one, my servant,
shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11).
Paul knew that for many this account of God’s action would be a ‘stumbling block’ and utter ‘foolishness’. Some see only this world’s power.
For others, however, this story reveals the love, power, and wisdom of a God so unlike ours that even in this suffering and death a strength is revealed that is infinitely beyond our own. As we have heard, the Apostle Paul came to believe that:
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no one may boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
It leaves us with the question: Do you see in Jesus death foolishness or the wisdom of God?
A lot depends on your answer. Paul again: ‘…the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Today, may you see clearly the wisdom, power, grace, and forgiveness of God in the crucified Jesus. As you do, may find the courage to trust this forgiving one with your sin, the uncertainties of life in this world, your coming death, and, indeed, with the coming life beyond.
After all, no one is more worthy of your trust that the one who gave himself over to the cross to save you.