Good Friday – Jesus led to the Cross
...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many – Matthew 20:28
Friday, the day of the cross. After being betrayed with a kiss, Jesus was beaten and mocked and left alone in the Praetorium, wearing a crown of thorns. And yet Jesus had come for this. He had been preparing his whole life for this moment where he would give himself as the perfect sacrifice. Like a lamb, he was led…and as the soldiers placed the cross upon his back to be carried to the place of his death, and nailed him to the cross, pierced for our transgressions, Jesus was lifted up for all to see him suffer and die.
The weight and cost of Jesus’ death on the cross has always impacted me greatly. Indeed it changed the course of my life when I realised all that Jesus had done for me, giving up his life for me and dying in my place while I was still a sinner. I could not live my life as my own anymore but surrendered myself to live for him.
Love costs, and such love as this cost Jesus everything. The horror of the physical torment on the cross coupled with the trauma of separation from the Father. Betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter,
A love such as this demands a response. When we realise what Jesus has done for us – the price that he paid so that we might be free, the price that he paid to ransom the lost – how can we not respond? And what is an adequate response? Isaac Watts writes it in the hymn; “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”.
Saturday - God was silent
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted – Matthew 5:4
With a silence that was deafening….that day after Jesus was executed God was silent. In despair, Jesus’ last words – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” [Matthew 27:46]….and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” [Luke 23:46] – echoed around the void and fell to silence.
The Saturday was Sabbath. Joseph hurried to seek permission from Pilate [Luke 23:52] and ran to the linen merchant to buy cloth. As soon as sundown on the Friday all work would cease, he had to be fast. With help from the same centurions who nailed him to the cross, Joseph gently wrapped Jesus in linen cloth, tied the shroud and laid Jesus in the tomb.
A borrowed tomb, a hasty burial. Too much trauma and pain had happened for one day. They would have to return on the third day to properly prepare the body, to anoint the dead with myrrh.
Saturday has always mystified me. And this sense of mystery is a good and a holy thing. I am not alone in my feelings of ‘Why God’ and that sense of praying or crying out and my best prayers reaching not much further than the ceiling. Where is God in the pain and the suffering? Where is God when all around is lost?
Saturday holds all this tension and it doesn’t let it go. Saturday will not give you a trite answer or oversimplify your very real pain and struggles and pat you on the back with an ‘it’s all ok’.
There have been times of great pain and loss when we are lost for words, where there is no adequate response. Silence can speak for itself. But what silence does not eliminate is presence. It’s in those times with the death of a loved one that sometimes we just need to sit…..and breathe….and remember….and to know that we are not alone in the silence but that God is present with us.
Easter Sunday - He is risen
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay – Matthew 28:6
Smell is such a powerful thing - it can trigger all sorts of memories and emotions. The perfume you wore on your wedding day, mothballs from your granny’s wardrobe, the smell of a Sunday roast. The smell of the perfume Myrrh that was given to Jesus at his birth, now being prepared at his death.
That Sunday all the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee were smelling was the spices and perfumes [Luke 24:1] that they had prepared the night before. As soon as they woke they took them and went to the tomb. They climbed the hill outside the city to find the tomb where they saw Joseph of Arimathea lay Jesus. Not knowing how they would roll the stone away, still stunned by the grief and loss they felt, they staggered forwards in the dawn light to see something they could not have prepared themselves for.
I don’t know what happened to those spices and perfumes they had prepared. I suppose they had no need of them because Jesus was not there. The stone was rolled away and shining angels surrounded them.
Into their grief and fear the angels spoke, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” [Luke 24:5-6]
And so the first messengers of the Good News ran from that place to tell the scattered and stunned disciples.
He is risen.
This changes everything.
And so the Good News began to spread, and from those first hearers the whole world was affected.
All Bible References are from the NIVBack