Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 39 of Lent, Good Friday, April 18, 2014

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

                     Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 27:46 (NRSV)

On Good Friday, when we remember the crucifixion, there may be opportunities for you to hear the story of the Passion recounted as liturgy for the church.  It is important for the Body of Christ to gather and to remember what happened to the body of Jesus on this day almost 2,000 years ago.  

To die upon the cross was a cruel and terrible thing.  It was unfortunately more common for those living in the Roman empire to witness as it was used as a way of controlling the masses.

The story of Jesus moves to tragedy today.  As we remember all of the good things he did - how he was present for those who felt lost or abandoned - we may feel that this is sadly ironic that Jesus now feels abandoned.  His disciples have left him and it seems as if God has as well.  

It is important for us to understand that Jesus is quoting from Psalm 22.  In fact, it is almost equally important for us to read this Psalm on this day. Within the Psalm, we see that there is more of the Passion narrative acted out and written down hundreds of years before Jesus experiences it.  The fact that it has happened before does not take away from the Passion of Jesus.  The fact that it continues to happen in the world today does not remove the power of the cross.  

In fact, it makes it all the more significant. 

In verses 7-8, the antagonists call into question the relationship with God.  If God loves you, why are you suffering?  Why doesn't God save you?  

This profound question that all who suffer ask is repeated in the Passion as recounted by Matthew in 27:43 when the religious leadership declares, "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to, for he said, 'I am God's Son.'" (NRSV)

But as we read on within the Psalm, we see that faith is restored.  God appears unseen but is present even amid the suffering.  

On Good Friday, Jesus experiences the deepest suffering.  And yet, Jesus also transcends even this suffering for us.  For we realize that even in our suffering - in the midst of our deepest loneliness - that Christ is with us in this.  That God somehow has walked this road before.

It is enough.

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali, 1951.
The original hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

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