Today’s Gospel: John 18:1-19:42
The Passion narratives are never easy to take in. With almost too much to absorb all at once, they can leave us feeling emotionally overwhelmed. On this sacred day, we hear the story of the Passion of Jesus as told by John, which moves us from the beginning of the end in one garden to the end of the beginning in another.
But we don’t just hear the story, we are literally invited into it. We experience Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s three-fold denial, Jesus’ arrest, questioning and flogging, Pilate’s yielding to pressure and Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. And although we may know the story by heart, we cannot allow the familiarity of the story to rob it of its ultimate meaning—Jesus freely and lovingly came to earth and gave his life for you and for me.
Today, more than anything else, we may want to run away; run away from Jesus’ cross and death. Yet the cross is exactly where we, as the followers of Christ, are asked to stand beneath—to enter it, feel it, endure it and be transformed within it.
We know that today is not the end of the story, but without Good Friday, there is no Easter Sunday. Resurrection work, it seems, is always done in the shadow of the cross—in the shadow of violence, suffering, death and human need.
On this Good Friday may we consciously decide to enter into Jesus’ Passion. And I invite you to ponder these words from the hymn, Beneath the Cross of Jesus, as you contemplate the cross this day:
Upon the cross of Jesus mine eyes at times can see
the very dying form of one who suffered there for me;
and from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess;
the wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)
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