Good Friday, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42
Jesus’ death should not have come as a shock to his disciples. He told them three times that he would suffer and die. Yet this still didn’t make sense to them. As a hero, he shouldn’t hand himself over willingly to be killed. Jesus was obviously smart, he seemed to know peoples thoughts and intentions. Why couldn’t he find another way to accomplish his mission?
If I look deep down inside, I wish there was another way for this story to turn out; one in which suffering and death were not the central part of our story and the way to our salvation. I’ve seen enough suffering on the news, and in our community, and across the world. Why do I need to witness this suffering here in church?
Suffering isn’t only what we see or hear. It is a message told throughout the Bible. Not only in the epic story of Job, but in the lives of people such as Joseph, Naomi, and Jeremiah. It is also in the stories we tell each other. Each of us have experience with pain. And many of you have shared your stories and struggles with me and others. Why God, why is life so harsh? Why do bad things happen to good people.
Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life. There is no satisfying answer as to why. But today is different. On this day, at this moment, the disciples were confused, grieved, and only saw the horror and tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion. But three days later, the truth that has been told and foretold comes true. The tomb is empty. Though we have not reached the empty tomb yet, the cross gives me great comfort.
Jesus suffering and death, God’s suffering and death, assures me that whatever happens to me in life, God has experienced the same if not worse. God understands my experience, not in a transcendent way, but in an immanent, physical, carnal way. He has lived the painful reality of life, of our lives, and Christ is with us when we experience pain and suffering.
Jesus cries out to God when his path seems too challenging. I can see the tears as he prays for his path to be made easier. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”1 What more can we ask of God than a god who shed tears with Mary and Martha as they mourn the loss of Lazarus. I don’t know why it had to happen this exact way but I know without the Cross, without Good Friday, there is no Easter. And if there is no Easter, there is no salvation, and life everlasting.
This is the Good news; that God is with us throughout our lives; even if we feel that we have been abandoned. That through hardship and death, new life will spring fourth. Thru this tragedy God will remember our sins and lawless deeds no more. For just like the thief, hanging next to Jesus was forgiven, we are forgiven. And “I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.”
1) Luke 22:42-44)