Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

(Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42)

In some places on Good Friday preachers give a long sermon on the Seven Last Words of Jesus.  Actually these are not single words but seven statements taken from the four gospels.  If the preachers’ remarks are perceptive, they show how the statements conform to each evangelist’s vision of Jesus.  In the Passion according to John, which we just read, Jesus’ last words portray him as the royal Son of God.

In John Jesus does not so much suffer on the cross as reign from it.  He indirectly told Pilate that he is a king; now he gathers all people to himself on Calvary as a king his subjects (John 12:32).  Close to him, as if it were his royal court, stand his mother and best loved disciple.  Also, a sign proclaiming him king in three languages is tacked to the cross.  No one mocks Jesus on the cross; rather, all listen to his royal decrees.

The first words Jesus utters present his mother to his disciple and his disciple to his mother.  The purpose of this exchange goes beyond a dutiful son providing for an aged parent.  Jesus is establishing his church with the two people who have shown the greatest faith in him.  Then Jesus says, “I thirst.”  The narrator has pointed out that he speaks these words to fulfill the Scripture.  References may be found to Jesus’ thirst in both Psalms 22 and 69.  More importantly, however, Jesus is showing kingly control over all that happens.  He thirsts because his Father ordained it.  Finally, Jesus pronounces his last words, “It is finished.”  He dies when he is ready and his work is done. No one or nothing has power over him. Jesus shows himself here as king not only of the Jews or of the world but of time and all creation as well. 

John’s consistent perspective of Jesus as king serves us well.  Some days things seem to fall apart.  We may be suffering great pain or feeling under pressure to do something very wrong.  We can look at Jesus reigning from the cross to find support.  Like him we know that worldly powers do not have control over us.  Because we stand with him, we have power to resist evil.  We know as well that we are destined to reign with him in glory.