Good Friday – Yr B - 2015
I’ll never forget the first Good Friday service I attended. I sat in the back so no one could spot the ‘Johnny come lately’ who was trying to do something with his life; trying to get past going through the motions and recapture the authentic Christian discipleship of my youth.
I heard the story told again – the same story I had known by heart most of my life, but that had faded into something less and less significant in how I was living my life. The story that reminded me: He was tortured and mocked for me. He was betrayed, and abandoned and nailed to a tree for me. He accepted His Father’s plan and was forsaken for me. He remained silent at his slaughter for me. He gave His Mother away for me. He screamed out the quiet, painful whisper for me – ‘It is finished’ for me – He bowed his precious head for me – He handed over His spirit…for me. He died for me.
And I wept. I wept openly. I wept like a man confronted with the reality that my sins crucified the Lord, that my failures even still often betray and deny Jesus Christ, and the reality that I could never be worth all that the Lord’s passion had won for me… The tears were strange – like an oil and water mixture of sadness and joy; I was overwhelmed by the hopelessness of my sin while at the same time overcome by the hope of His sacrifice; grieving the millions of ways my life and sin scream ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ while at the same time celebrating the victory of love and forgiveness I heard in His precious voice saying gently, yet persistently and convincingly to the Father: ‘Forgive them… for the know not what they do.’
I felt like I was standing in-between ‘It is finished’ and ‘The tomb is empty.’ It was Friday…but somehow I knew that Sunday was comin’.
The tears just wouldn’t stop – though the sobbing came under control… at least until I walked with a room full of strangers to the altar to venerate the Holy Cross. There, I just couldn’t hold it back as my tears stained the place on the cross where His precious feet would have been nailed straight into the wood…He did this for me!
The pain seemed too much to bare – the pain of confronting that His pain was – and is – my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault! And then … and then this one sparkle of a thought began to break through to remind me why I was there that Friday night all those years ago – the same reason you and I are here tonight: He did this for me!
You see, brothers and sisters…it worked! He did this for us – He did this for you and for me…but ‘this’ – this death and burial – is not the whole story. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin. Good Friday is only possible because Easter Sunday’s comin. We stand in the pain and sorrow and guilt and shame of the crucifixion on Good Friday only because He calls us to stand in the glorious sunlight of the stone rolled away. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin.
…but have we accepted that? Have we received that? Have we let the reality that it worked – that all this worked – and that you and I are redeemed? We are, truly, redeemed? Have we let it sink in? That’s how we truly honor the agony of the cross – we let it sink into our lives, our days, all of our days, that His death successfully bought our salvation!
What’s the Good Friday message? It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. You and I are redeemed. Nothing united to Christ ends in the torture and death of Good Friday – if we accept all that the Passion won for us, whenever it’s Friday in our life and in our journey…we can always remember…Sunday’s comin. We have been redeemed!