It is Good Friday, today is not a day for rejoicing or celebration. It has always been tough not to move straight to the Resurrection, we don’t want to stop at the foot of the cross. This year seems so very different, the world around us changed, we are in a world full of fear and sorrow, a world of loss where the discomfort we normally avoid is unavoidable.
There is hope ahead, for our world in lockdown and fear for Coronavirus and as we sit at the foot of the cross. On this Good Friday we acknowledge that we cannot know the joy of resurrection without first truly contemplating the pain of crucifixion.
I have based my reflection on the account of Jesus death from Matthew 27:45-54
On Good Friday we a share in an intense sense of loss, we witness suffering. All that Jesus has been through: the betrayal, the false trials, the mockery, the loneliness, the anguish, the misunderstanding, the beatings, the humiliation, all leading up to this point. Here is Jesus, hanging on a cross: a fool in the eyes of the world. Jesus hangs before us utterly alone in pain and anguish. It is not surprising, that Jesus should cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
How could Jesus be the Son of God and yet be forsaken by God?
Jesus is feeling utterly abandoned by God. Jesus has become sin for us and the dis-location that he felt within himself, the dis-location he felt from his father, is something that he had never experienced before. And so Jesus, who cannot find the words to express his pain, turns to the Scriptures. “My God, my God’ why have you forsaken me?” is the opening line from Psalm 22. It is a very human expression of isolation that the Psalmist David felt when he was running for his life from Saul. In that moment, David felt utterly alone, completely abandoned; aware of his own vulnerability, overcome by fear, and it felt for all the world that God had turned his back on him. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The truth for us, just as it was for Jesus, is that we have not been abandoned by God and we never will be abandoned by God. Like Jesus, we may need to endure times of agony and desolation. Like Jesus, we may feel abandoned and alone. But like Jesus, we are never alone and this, surely, is the good news that makes this Friday a Good Friday…
Ay about 3 O’clock Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” That is no cry of defeat: “It’s all over: I can’t take it any more”. It is a cry of victory. “It is finished! It is accomplished! The work is done”
This though is the day to pause, to try and understand, to feel the pain and sorrow, to reflect a while as we kneel at the foot of the cross.
Todays hymn is one that is sung at the foot of the cross:
Come and see, come and see Come and see the King of love
See the purple robe and crown of thorns he wears
Soldiers mock, rulers sneer As he lifts the cruel cross
Lone and friendless now he climbs towards the hill
Come and weep, come and mourn For your sin that pierced him there
So much deeper than the wounds of thorn and nail
All our pride, all our greed All our fallenness and shame
And the Lord has laid the punishment on him
Man of heaven, born to earth To restore us to your heaven
Here we bow in awe beneath Your searching eyes
From your tears comes our joy From your death our life shall spring
By your resurrection power we shall rise
We worship at your feet Where wrath and mercy meet
And a guilty world is washed By love’s pure stream
For us he was made sin Oh, help me take it in
Deep wounds of love cry out ‘Father, forgive’
I worship, I worship The Lamb who was slain.*
Your friend and Vicar
*(c) 1989 Make Way Music, Graham Kendrick