by Rev. Fr. M. M. Zachariah
The worst day that ever was -- is called 'Good Friday.' How did this day of shame, suffering and sorrow to be called 'Good' Friday? In Kerala, this day is known as 'Sorrowful Friday' (Duchavelliyascha).
Even before the Word of God became human, the prophets foretold the nature and sufferings of the Son of God. In 760 B. C., Isaiah prophesied, "His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness....He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him...A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering." (Isaiah 52:14; 53:3)
Lucifer the chief among the Satanic forces, the adversary of God, had been waiting for this day for a long time. Satan heard the shouting of the Jews, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" He probably said to his army, 'Now we will defeat him on this cross, and make a mockery of him with a purple robe and a crown of thorns. And we will nail Him to this gallows.'
Regardless, Love accepted it all, and this awful Cross has become the most splendid and adored symbol in the world. For centuries faithful Christians have been wearing the cross around their neck. Churches all across the world have placed a cross on the top of their church buildings. Most capital cities of the civilized world have a cross placed high in the center of their city. Hospital ships speeding along to provide blessed humanitarian service also have the sign of the cross on them. And of course, we are all very familiar with the world famous relief organization, The Red Cross. The cross once a symbol of shame, cruelty, fear, arrogance and hatred now blesses our world and communicates mercy, courage, hope and love-all because of God's unconditional love and His triumph on the cross.
The cross became the altar on which the lamb of God was crucified. The cross is not an explanation, but a demonstration of the Love of God. The Bible says, "God is love" and "God so loved the world." The creator of the universe showed His unfathomable love through His death on the cross. He knew in advance what kind of death He was going to face. Along with His identity, He revealed the purpose of His coming into the world to His disciples by saying, "no one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." (John 3:13-15)
The cross is solution of the world's pain. It is through the cross that salvation is provided for the world's sin. "Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29b) It is the salvation of the soul for each one of us as we accept that love which is offered to us on the cross. Folks, passion week is a time for looking at ourselves in a mirror and see the way we are, and then look to the cross and realize that our sin nailed Him, the Prince of glory, there. Young prophet Isaiah says, "I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted .....'Woe to me,' I cried, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 6: 1; 5) During this week, we also need to experience the kind of confession Isaiah experienced.
The cross shows us the love of God. Sin nailed Him there, and my sin had a share in it. It is a wonderful thing to think that I am worth all that to Him. O! my poor wretched soul, you are so precious to Him that He thought you worth dying for. He loved and died for me while I was an enemy. And He loved and died for His friends.
Remember the words of St. Paul, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."(1 Cor. 1:18) May I ever boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14)
Our life is uncertain in this world. You have probably heard the slogan, 'One life to live.' The question is, how do you live that life? We have to remember always that we shall never have this life again. "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come! All that we have is this moment." Today we have an opportunity to serve God joyfully and love other human beings.
Therefore, let us draw near to the cross and visualize in our minds what happened about two thousand years back-a humble feeble lady, the mother of our Lord, with a torn heart, and her clothes soaked in blood looking at the cross with her swollen eyes. Close to her are standing some of her close friends, and her new son John, the beloved, repeating, I believe, the words of the thief on the cross, "Lord Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And now echoes the thundering words of Jesus, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, today you shall be with me in Paradise."
May we kiss the sleeba on Good Friday with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and hear the promising words from our Lord, "You shall be with me in paradise."
"When I survey the wondrous Cross, on which the Prince of Glory died. My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride." (Isaac Watts)
Passion Week Supplement
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