Why in the world would we call this Friday “Good”? In our lesson from the prophet Isaiah, we are told of a person despised and rejected by men. A man severely beaten, whose back, in the words of the Psalmist (129:3), resembled a plowed field. A man whose face was so marred, he was barely recognizable, so that Pilate would have to tell the crowd, “Ecce Homo” – behold the man.
Holy Week began last Sunday with the Liturgy of the Palms and our procession into Church commemorating the triumphal entry of Jesus into
Passion is the word we use to describe the sufferings of Jesus following the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday until his crucifixion.
We remember Jesus being betrayed by a kiss from Judas in the
At the same time, the Passion evokes in us intense emotions as the events of two thousand years ago are brought into the present. Unfortunately, our passions can be misdirected. For centuries, Good Friday became an opportunity to avenge the death of Jesus by killing Jewish people wherever they might be found.
It is easier to be enflamed by the people and events of long ago than it is to realize that they were all small bit players that appear momentarily on the stage of world history in God’s plan for our redemption.
The inconvenient truth we remember today is expressed succinctly in a few words from the Nicene Creed – “And He was crucified also for us.” It was not the very real betrayals, the failures, the cruelty, cowardice and villainy of others long ago, but our present day real life personal culpability for the many times (1928 BCP p 6) “We have left undone those things we ought to have done; And done those things which we ought not to have done. Truly, there is no health in us,” or in the words of the prophet Isaiah read earlier, (Is 53:6) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
That last part, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” is why we are here today. Today, we remember Jesus, true man and true God. (Is 53:5) It was He who “was wounded for our transgressions, was bruised for our iniquities…and with his stripes we are healed.”
The Passion is also about the mental agony of Jesus as he takes upon himself every sin from each person individually – from the sin of the disobedience of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, to the sin of Cain the first murderer, to those who were presently abusing him, whom he forgives from the Cross, as well as every future person yet unborn. That includes each of us here today. As
Spiritual writers have often expounded that it was not the nails which held Jesus on the Cross, but his great love for us. Our every sin and our every weakness is known to God and yet he still loves us. (
The crucifixion of Jesus makes the Cross the focal point of all history. The Old Testament saints looked forward in faith to that long promised day (
Be thankful. It is a very Good Friday indeed.