Good Friday meditation
by Deacon Jenny
Lord we have journeyed.
We have journeyed with You into the streets of Jerusalem.
We have walked with the crowd, raising shouts of acclamation!
We have journeyed to the table with You, as Your invited guests,
and feasted in Your company.
Some of us fell asleep as You prayed in the darkness alone;
Forgive us Lord.
Enable us to journey with you along the path of suffering
May we not flinch or turn our face from you.
Help us in our weakness to remain faithfully by your side,
today, tomorrow, and forever.
Good Friday invites us to enter into the pain and the suffering of Jesus’s death. It is tempting to jump from the joy and the carnivalesque atmosphere of Palm Sunday and land on Easter day shouting Hallelujah. That is safe and clean and comfortable. However painful it is though; it is important that we journey through the betrayal and desolation of Maundy Thursday and the horrors of Good Friday so that we can truly say our hallelujahs together on Easter day.
In our Scriptures we read the graphic details of the torture and death of Christ Jesus. Affliction is something which we naturally recoil from. We read a narrative that is jarring and jagged and takes us beyond any delicate images of Christ’s death on the cross. John 19:1-3 and Matt 27:27-31 tells us of the brutality of the flogging that Christ received. The red ribbons of blood flowing from Jesus’s body. The tattered scarlet robe, which was put on him, along with the crown of thorns embedded on his head, to mock his kingship. As we read, it perhaps moves us into seeing an image which expresses the agonies felt for all the suffering inflicted in our world. Darkness closes in, the light of the world is being dimmed before us.
We move on to the crucifixion. The pointed nails pierce hands that did no harm. Hands that offered healing, hospitality and acceptance are torn. Jesus’ ribcage is exposed, his side pierced Jesus takes on the full force of all that is wrong in the world and in us. Every act of rebellion against God from creation through to the end of history is being dealt with on the cross.
“I will sweep away your sin like a cloud. I will scatter your offences, like the morning mist. Return to me for I have paid the price. “Isaiah 44 v 22
We may feel that we are suffering (and so we are) but this image of the dying Christ reminds us that there is nowhere we can go, nothing we can experience that has not been fully experienced by Jesus Christ There are many who would understand this image of pain: those who live in war zones, those trapped in violent or abusive homes, those watching loved ones die, those in parts of the world where lockdown means no food and having to watch your children starve. Can this image of the dying Christ disturb us into action? If we have a secure income, who might we bless and help today? Who needs our prayers? Who needs to know that Jesus stands with them today?
Here, we must stare in horror and wonder at the love that brought Jesus to this place. Jesus becomes the lamb of the world, making the final sacrifice for us all.
The excruciating pain gives way to the pervading sense of desolation as the three hours on the cross draw to a close. The place of the skull, Golgotha, waits for its next victims.
In his final moments, flanked by two criminals (one repentant and the other not), Jesus cries out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:33-34).
Jesus felt abandoned by God and yet God was present. How could God be otherwise? When clouds form and darkness gathers, we say, ‘The sun isn’t shining!’ but it is. We just can’t see it. It has brought me great comfort to know that even Jesus experienced that sense of abandonment by God. Not even God’s own son was able to see his Father at all times.
After the drama and the betrayal, the violence, and the pain, here we have those final moments when life ebbs away and all is still. It is finished. Not just the torture, the pain, and the crucifixion but the task Jesus set out to complete. It doesn’t look like much of an accomplishment – not yet – but like the women who witnessed this brutality, we must wait and see.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
* Opening prayer by Deacon Selina Nesbitt