Friday 15 April 2022

Bible Book:

See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals - so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. (vs 13-15)

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 Friday 15 April 2022

Psalm 22 


It is Good Friday and we arrive at our waypoint on the journey. Three men on crosses, each equally dead by nightfall. One of them claimed nothing for himself and threw himself on Jesus’ mercy. The other chided Jesus. The third, a victim of the system, bore within himself the sin of the whole world. Each were equally dead by nightfall. It was not the first crucifixion, nor the last. In a line that stretches back through human history and forward into our unpromising future, men and women will be put to death by people in power and authority. They will suffer and die in mundane circumstances – dying for their religion, their ideology, their difference. They will be forgotten.

We sometimes say, it isn’t what has happened that matters so much as what happens next. We like to think that the penitent thief was indeed remembered in paradise. For the other criminal, well we believe in God’s grace and mercy, and so we hope for the best for him. We know the story does not yet end for Jesus.

In our reading today, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah tells of God’s plan. An act of outrageous injustice is made into a lens through which to see the bigger plan, and so to gaze into eternity. When it comes to Jesus' death, those who are astonished and dismayed might recall the prophet’s words and so, instead, see the cosmic dimensions and know the saving purpose. What is happening is what God promised would happen, and that promise is being fulfilled in the great drama which is playing out on the Cross. We can see into the mystery, for we know the outcome. Some may suggest that it is a sudden intervention of the divine, the deus ex machina loved of some types of dramatic presentation, that changes the course of events. We, who know the outcome, can see the bigger picture and are able to trace the patterns laid down by such as the prophet Isaiah. We can hear the cry of the crucified Jesus: "It is finished" and know it for what it is –a giving up of his spirit – for the life of the world. A public proclamation of the completion of his mission. John’s Gospel does not offer words of despair from the Cross. John’s theology of the Cross is not a dismal ending, but a glorious beginning. Jesus' words to the penitent thief are for us: "Because of today, you will be with me in paradise."


To Ponder:

  • In what ways do you recognise the Cross as a waypoint and celebrate that the story has not yet finished?
  • What can your local church do to better proclaim the transforming power of the Gospel in the lives of everyday people and communities?
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