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Good Friday

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[For additional Good Friday Resources:  Click Here ].


LECTIONARY READINGS
from the Revised Common Lectionary

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25 or
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

[ Read the texts at the Vanderbilt Divinity On-Line Library ]
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A Meditation for Good Friday
"For Us"

"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross..."

These words from one of the most popular hymns in the Christian world, point to an image that is deeply rooted in our souls.  There is a lonely figure of a tortured man hanging on a Roman cross. He is abandoned by his friends, derided by his enemies and forsaken by God.

For every Christian community around the world, this is the most somber of days as we contemplete the astonishing fact that the Son of God came to love a world that crucified him.

There are so many questions that come to us when we think through our faith.

How can God be a God of love in a world where evil at times seems to prosper?  It is bewildering to reflect on free will and the will of God.  How can there be so many denominations and sects claiming to believe in Christ and the scriptures?

Yet... of all the theological truths that confound us and turn our hearts to wondering, this is the greatest of them all.

"How can it be that the Son of God should die on a cross?"

Though we come together as a community to reflect on the cross, it is as though each of us stands alone before the One who came to give his life. Each of us must respond to the the thought of the old hymn:

"When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the prince of glory died..."

What happens when you survey, or reflect on that cross and the person who is there crucified?

Johann Heermann struggled with this same truth in 1630 and wrote:

"Who was the guilty?
  Who brought this upon thee?

   Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
   'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
         I crucified thee."

***

Of all the volumes that have ever been written and all the hymns that have ever been sung -- there are two words that give the clearest understanding of what it was that happened on a cross outside of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago.

"For us..."

The Apostle Paul spoke of this in very clear terms when he wrote, "... God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us." [Rom. 5:8]

All that took place -- on earth and in heaven -- everything that happened on that cross and in the resurrection that followed was...  for us.

We may not be able to fathom the profound depths of how it is that we are reconciled to God by placing our faith in this Crucified One.   We will more than likely, never understand all the theories of atonement and how the cross of Christ relates to this amazing truth.

But...  we can reflect on the scene... take it in with our heart and soul and hear a gentle spirit within whispering...

"For me..."

Isaiah Spells it Out

Our scriptue from Isaiah spells out how it is that everything which has led to this scene at the cross is for us.

"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases..."

"...he was wounded for our transgressions..."

"...by his bruises we are healed..."

"...the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."  [ Isa. 53:4-6]

We may never fully understand this with our minds.  We may never plumb the theological depths of how God has reconciled us through this event.

Yet...  when we open our hearts to the love that God want to pour into us through this event, there is peace in our spirit and music in our hearts.

"... love so amazing, so divine...
demands my soul, my life, my all."

Hebrews Sums it up

The result of the events of Good Friday are life changing for those who embrace the amazing reality that the Son of God came to give his life...

"For us..."

An earth shaking thing has taken place in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

We are understood!

By God!

Do you see?  Jesus Christ came to bring the healing, renewing, life changing love of God to people like you and me.

Incredibly, there were those who wanted nothing to do with this love of God incarnate and sent him to the city dump of Jerusalem where he was crucified.

Nevertheless, he loved them still.   He loves us still.  In spite of the fact that we too stand in the crowd that rejects his love and spurns his advances.

And now...   as the reading from Hebrews says,

"... we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." [ Heb. 4:15]

In other words...  No one understands you like the One who made you and no one loves you more than the One who came to give his life...

"For us..."

"So, I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
  'Til my trophies at last I lay down,
   I will cling to the old rugged cross,
   And exchange it one day for a crown!"