‘…the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed…’ (Isaiah 53:5)
Bible Reflection : John 19
As Holy Week draws to a close we suddenly find ourselves at the foot of a cross, one of the most horrific and brutal symbols of death, and there we see our Lord. As was the case back then with all His disciples and all who followed Him from afar, still we find ourselves asking the question, how could this happen? How could Jesus find Himself on a cross on Golgotha, crucified between two criminals? We struggle to make sense of this and like many down through the ages still perhaps question what any of this has to do with God. Yet even a quick look through Scriptures will give us the answer and reveal to us that it is at that point, when Jesus looks most deserted and defeated on the cross that God’s promise of love and hope resonates most clearly.
On Good Friday we often tend to focus on the cross and the suffering and sheer pain our Lord endured – and it is right that we do remember the sacrifice He made for us. Yet we also need to look beyond the cross. Even in those moments of agonising pain Jesus was able to look and to see His Mother and the beloved disciple, John, and seek to take care of both their needs. Even now with the life ebbing out of Him still Jesus was looking to care for others, as He did throughout His ministry with the likes of the woman at the well, the Centurion’s servant, Zacchaeus, the rich young man, the woman accused of adultery and many others. Jesus looked on them with love and compassion caring for their needs, and although John doesn’t record it in his account, even at the end Jesus would show this same love and compassion and seek the Father’s forgiveness for those who put Him on the cross – and indeed for us all.
Good Friday was a day when something terrible happened. The Son of God, an innocent man, was executed in the most horrific and barbaric way. So why then call a day such as this ‘Good’? Again, we need to look beyond the horrors of the cross, for only then can we see that in the midst of this most horrific scene something truly wonderful was beginning to take place here.
Because Jesus was denied and condemned, through Him we are now able to take our place in God’s Kingdom without fear of condemnation. Because His body was beaten and broken we have been healed in the way that Isaiah spoke of and are now able to be at one with God. And because Jesus was killed but rose to new life, we too can have life eternal in His presence. It is from Jesus pain, suffering and anguish that we are able to find our peace with God and be reconciled with Him once again.
Without Good Friday there would be no glorious Resurrection on Easter Morning. Without the Resurrection there would be no rising to new life. Without this new life we would forever be apart from our Father in Heaven, devoid of all hope. Our journey to eternal life with our Lord began on Good Friday through the sacrifice of Jesus – and that is why we can dare to call it ‘Good’
Loving God, You loved the world so much that you sent Your one and only Son, not to condemn this world, but that through Him it might be saved, and we who are quicker to judge than to bless fall silent at the extravagance of Your Grace. On this Good Friday, Lord, even as we are unable to gather in Your name as we normally would, we pray for the church of Jesus Christ here on earth. We pray that even now it may blossom and grow as we remember the Easter message this weekend. Keep alive in us the assurance of hope and peace that this day brings, that as your church here on earth we may proclaim the message of Easter each and every day of our lives. And all this we ask in Jesus name. Amen.