Malankara World Journal
Theme: Good Friday, Gospel Saturday Special
Volume 8 No. 472 March 28, 2018
III. Good Friday Meditations
By Dr. Ray PritchardScripture: Isaiah 53:10-12 It is Friday in Jerusalem. The smell of death is in the air. Outside the city wall, just north of the Damascus Gate, in a place long reserved for public executions, three crosses stand beside the road. A crowd has gathered this day. Not that crucifixion was unusual. But this day is different. An unusual man is being crucified. Up the road comes a group of people. The soldiers know that two of the men being crucified are the kind of criminals that you find in any big city anywhere in the world. That's no big deal. But the third man, the one from up north, the preacher from Nazareth, his case is different. They don't really know who he is. They know it's important because they sense the buzz in the crowd. Today there were more people than usual, a bigger crowd, noisier, rowdier, milling to and fro, waiting for the action to begin. --- Jesus had been beaten within an inch of his life Up the road comes a parade of people led by a brawny foreigner carrying a cross. He couldn't be the one they were going to crucify. It turns out he was a man by the name of Simon—Simon of Cyrene. The crowd swirls around him and behind him is a stooped figure, a man not quite six feet tall. Now walking, now crawling, each step an agony to behold. He had been beaten within an inch of his life. His back was in shreds, his front was covered with the markings of the whip. His face was disfigured and swollen where they had ripped out the beard by the roots. And on his head a crown of thorns six inches long stuck under the skin. A shell of a man. A man already more dead than alive. The soldiers laid the cross out on the ground and they laid the body of Jesus on the cross. As they adjusted his arms and legs, he let out a moan. But he did not resist them. They did their work quickly. One hand over here, one hand over there. Wrapping rope around this arm and around that arm. Rope around the legs, probably bent and partially resting on a small platform. They drove the spike on the forearm side of the wrist so that when the weight of the cross fell, the spike wouldn't rip all the way through the hand. A spike in each wrist and then a spike through the legs. With the ropes in place they began to pull the cross up. Blood spurts from the raw wounds. At the right moment, they let go and the cross fell with a thud. And there was Jesus, exposed before the world, beaten, bruised and bloody. The soldiers stood back, satisfied. A job well done. "Get the dice," someone said. "Let's roll dice for his clothes." The Good Friday Question Few things in life are more difficult than the sudden death of someone we love. The mind wrestles with so many unanswerable questions, chief among them why. Why did things happen the way they did and when they did? Why should a young man just starting out have his life so quickly cut short? This is the great question of Good Friday. Why did Jesus die?
Who is behind this travesty of justice?
How could such a good man have come to such a bad end? === Why did Jesus die? It happens that I am writing these words on Good Friday. In the history of the church, this day has also been called Holy Friday or Black Friday or Long Friday, all in remembrance of what Jesus suffered on the cross. I just finished reading an article on why this particular day is called "Good" Friday. It does seem odd because to the casual observer there was nothing "good" about what happened to Jesus when he was crucified. Beaten.
Skin in tatters.
Nails driven through his hands and feet.
Surrounded by a howling mob.
Dying between two thieves.
What's good about that?
We come again to the question, who did this? And why?
What purpose could be served in crucifying Jesus of Nazareth? --- What's so good about Good Friday? When Isaiah comes to the end of his Fourth Servant Song, he devotes the last stanza (53:10-12) to a consideration of what the death of the Servant really means. In these three verses we have God's answer to the question, "Why did Jesus die?" Each verse gives us one part of the answer. Since Isaiah wrote 700 years before Calvary, he put his words in in the future tense. We will do the same thing as we consider these verses. I. He Will Be Crushed
"Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,Who is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? The answer may surprise you. According to the Bible, God takes responsibility for the death of his Son. "Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer." The New King James gives that phrase a slightly different feel: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief." Both versions say the same thing, but the NKJV emphasizes that it pleased the Lord to "crush" his only Son. As a father of three sons, I cannot fathom that, have no category for it, cannot imagine willingly putting one of my sons to death, much less taking pleasure in it. But the truth stands and cannot be denied: Jesus died because his Father willed that he should die. The terrible suffering our Lord endured did not happen by chance nor did it happen solely because the Jewish leaders wanted it and Pilate cravenly caved in. Behind the evil deeds of evil men stands the Lord God Almighty. He and he alone sent Jesus to the cross. Until you understand that fact, the true meaning of the death of Christ will be lost to you. ----God willed that his own Son be crushed God willed that his own Son be crushed.
God planned that his own Son should suffer grief.
God desired that his own Son be made an offering for sin. Isaiah goes on to talk about the great results that will flow from his suffering. These are the glories that will follow. First, he will see his descendants. We rarely get to do that. I have lived long enough to see my grandchildren. I like that! I have often thought of the little prayer based on Psalm 128:6, "May you live to see your grandchildren playing at your feet." That happened to me earlier today when I sat in a chair in our den and watched Eli and Knox (who are two and three years old, respectively) play together. They had little plastic pirate swords and Eli wore a red bandana. We all laughed as they ran through the house with those little plastic swords. Later Penny (who is one) sat on my lap and I sang "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" to her. And I held Violet (who is six months old) and watched her smile as she unsteadily stood up on my lap while I held her arms. It is a wonderful privilege. I know that I may not live long enough to see my great-grandchildren. In the normal course of things, I certainly won't live to see my great-great-grandchildren. I wish I could, but I doubt I'll live to be 110 or whatever it would take for that to happen. Most of us never to get more than one or two generations after us
But Jesus saw his descendants. Mortal men live and die and never see their descendants beyond a generation or two. But Jesus, because he is the eternal Son of God, lives forever. Second, he will prolong his days. How can that be? I have already mentioned that I am writing this sermon on Good Friday. Earlier today I ran across this quote from Bob Goff: "Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost - But heaven just started counting to three." Someone wrote underneath that Facebook status: "Three, two, one—Resurrection!" Good Friday was not the end of the story. God was not defeated. Jesus will rise from the dead, never to die again. He will prolong his days forever. As Jesus said to John on the Isle of Patmos: His death was not the end of the story
"I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18).Third, the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. God has designed a great work for him to do. God has ordained that his Son will be the means by which a vast multitude will be saved. He is even now leading many sons to glory. Here's a simple statement from Tony Evans that captures the meaning of this phrase: Jesus didn't say, "I am finished." He said, "It is finished." He was just getting started. That's exactly right. His death was not the end of the story. Jesus was just getting started. II. He Will Be Satisfied
"After he has suffered,First, he suffers.
Then he sees.
Then he is satisfied. Suppose we ask the question this way: --- "O Christ what burdens bowed Thy head" What could possibly justify the terrible suffering that Jesus endured on the cross? By that I mean not just the physical suffering (which was nothing less than brutal torture), but also the emotional pain that caused him to pray in agony that the "cup" of suffering might be removed from him, and the unrelenting pressure of knowing beforehand what was about to transpire, and the burden of bearing the sins of the world. Consider these words from a hymn by Ann Ross Cundell Cousin:
O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy Head!Isaiah has already told us that it pleased the Father to crush his own Son, a thought that in itself seems amazing. Even if we don't fully understand it, we certainly can ask some questions:
Why would God do such a thing to his Son?Isaiah 53:11 tells us that after his suffering, the Servant would see "the light of life," meaning that he would be raised from the dead. And he will be satisfied. If we take this phrase and put it in words that Jesus might have said, it looks something like this: "I want the joy of seeing my Father's house in heaven filled with his redeemed children. Therefore, I am willing to suffer the pain and shame of a brutal death on the cross. I am fully satisfied with my Father's plan." We know this must be the meaning because the last part of verse 11 explains the source of his satisfaction: "My righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." May I ask you a very personal question;
Have you ever been justified?Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said this in a recent interview: "I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close." Mr. Bloomberg may be a billionaire, but he is clueless about going to heaven. He's only right about one thing: "It's not even close." He's not as good as he thinks he is, and he's a much greater sinner than he has imagined. But he speaks for many modern types who think they can earn their way into heaven. Michael Bloomberg is clueless about going to heaven
Wrong. The only way to heaven is to admit you don't deserve to go there, and to confess that because of your sin you deserve hell, and to cast yourself on the mercy of Jesus who loved you and died for you and paid the price for your sin when he died on the cross. So let me ask it this way:
Are you following the Bloomberg Plan or the Jesus Plan?
You can't follow them both.
There is one final piece of the puzzle that explains the true meaning of Good Friday. III. He Will Be Rewarded
"Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,With these words Isaiah comes full circle. He started by declaring that the servant would be exalted in spite of his suffering (52:13-15). Now he declares that the servant will be exalted because of his suffering. Using military terminology, he says that Jesus will divide the spoils of victory. Like a soldier returning triumphant from the field of battle, Christ receives the highest glory. Thomas Kelly pictures it this way: The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor's brow. Jesus won the victory precisely because he was obedient to the Father's will and offered himself on the cross. Isaiah says it four different ways:
"He poured out his life unto death."Isaiah says that Jesus will divide the spoil with "the strong." Who is he talking about? He means that since Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, he will divide the spoils of victory with all those who follow him. Jesus is the captain of our salvation Let me illustrate. Think for a moment about the famous story of David and Goliath. Why did those two men fight a one-on-one battle? The answer is simple. Each man represented his own army. David fought for Israel.
Goliath fought for the Philistines. When David won, the whole army won with him. When the Philistines were routed, the men of Israel chased them back where they came from. Then 1 Samuel 17:53 adds this detail: The people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. David won the battle, but the Israelites shared the spoils of victory.
It's the same with Jesus and us.
When he wins, we win.
That doesn't mean we deserve it. We don't.
When he was numbered with the transgressors, he was numbered with us.
When he bore the sin of many, he was bearing our sin.
When he was appointed a grave with the wicked, he was buried in our grave. That's what makes all this so amazing. Christ the Victor has willingly shared his victory with us. Here is the ultimate good news for those who believe in Jesus. He has returned victorious from the ultimate contest.
The devil could not stop him,Having subdued all his enemies, he marches in triumph, the Undefeated Sovereign and the Ultimate Victor. No one can stand against him. He has attained the highest place in the universe by virtue of his suffering. He did not come to this place by founding a new movement (though he did), or by force of his oratory (which was magnificent), or by his miracles (which were amazing), and not even by the brilliance of his teaching (which was undeniable). Think about this. He came to the highest place by taking the lowest position. Isaiah says in his own way what Paul will write to the Philippians over 700 years later. Christ became "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). It is only in light of that truth, and because of that truth, and as a result of that truth, that God has highly exalted his Son to the very highest point in the universe so that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:9-11).
First he suffers.In 1851 a clergyman named Matthew Bridges wrote a few verses that later became the much-loved hymn Crown Him With Many Crowns. In 1874 Godfrey Thring added more verses. The hymn we sing today is a combination of verses by both men. The hymn surveys the life, death and resurrection of the Lord. The last verse, which looks to the future when Christ will reign over all the earth, sums up the triumphant final stanza of Isaiah 53.
Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
© Keep Believing Ministries
by Alphonsus LiguoriThe amiable Redeemer approaches the end of life. My soul, behold those eyes grow dim; that beautiful countenance becomes pale; that heart palpitates feebly;
that sacred body is abandoned to death. Jesus, therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said, "It is consummated" (John 19:30). When on the point of expiring, Jesus placed before his eyes all the sufferings of his life—the poverty, fatigues, pains, and injuries which he had suffered—and, again offering them all to his Eternal Father, he said, All is now accomplished—all is consummated. All that the prophets foretold of me is consummated; in a word, the sacrifice which God expected in order to be appeased with the world is perfectly consummated, and full satisfaction is made to the divine justice. It is consummated, said Jesus, turning to his Eternal Father: It is consummated, he said, at the same time turning to us. As if he had said, O men, I have done all that I can do, in order to save your souls and to gain your love. I have done my part; do you now yours. Love me, and be not unwilling to love a God who has gone so far as to die for you. And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46). These were the last words which Jesus spoke on the cross. Seeing that his blessed soul was about to be separated from his mangled body, he said, with perfect resignation to the divine will, and with filial confidence, Father, to you I recommend my spirit. As if he had said, My Father, I have no will; I do not wish either to live or die. If it is pleasing to you that I continue to suffer on this cross, behold, I am ready; into your hands I consign my spirit; do with it what you will. Oh that we also would say the same when we meet any cross, leaving ourselves to be guided by the Lord in all things, according to his good pleasure! … . Yes, my Jesus, in your hands I place my life and my death; in you I abandon myself entirely, and I recommend my soul to you now for the last moments of my life. Receive it into your wounds, as your Father received your spirit, when you expired on the cross. But behold, Jesus dies. O angels of heaven, come, come to be present at the death of your God. And you, O sorrowful mother of God, approach nearer to the cross, raise your eyes to behold your Son; look at him more steadfastly, for he is about to expire. Behold, the Redeemer already calls on death, and gives it permission to come and take away his life. O death, he says, perform your office; take away my life and save my sheep. Behold, the earth trembles, the graves are opened, the veil of the Temple is rent in two; behold how the violence of his pains deprives the dying Lord of strength, of the natural heat, of respiration; his body is abandoned to death; he bows down his head on his breast, he opens his mouth, and expires: And bowing down His head, He gave up his spirit (John 19:30). Go forth, O beautiful soul of my Savior, go forth; go to open paradise, which has been hitherto shut against us; go to present yourself to the divine Majesty, and to obtain for us pardon and salvation. The crowd, turning to Jesus, on account of the loud voice in which he spoke these words, look at him with attention and in silence; they see him expire, and, observing that he is motionless, they exclaim, He is dead—he is dead. Mary hears this from all the bystanders, and she also says, Ah, my Son, You are dead. He is dead. O God, who is dead? The author of life, the only-begotten of God, the Lord of the world. O death which was the astonishment of heaven and of nature! A God to die for his creatures! O infinite charity! A God to sacrifice himself entirely! To sacrifice his delights, his honor, his blood, his life; and for whom? For ungrateful creatures. And to die in a sea of sorrows and insults, and in order to atone for our sins. My soul, raise your eyes, and behold that crucified Man-God. Behold that divine Lamb sacrificed on that altar of pain; consider that he is the beloved Son of the Eternal Father, and consider that he has died through the love he has borne you. See how his arms are stretched out to embrace you; his head bowed down to give you the kiss of peace; his side opened to receive you. What do you say? Does a God so good and so loving deserve to be loved? Listen to what the Lord says to you from the cross: My Son, see if there is any one in this world who has loved you more than I, your God, has loved you? Ah, my God and my Redeemer, you, then, have died, and died a death the most infamous and painful. And why? To gain my love. But what love of a creature can ever compensate the love of his Creator, who has died for him? O my adored Jesus, O love of my soul! How shall I be ever able to forget you? How shall I be able to love anything but you, after having seen you dying through pain on this cross in order to atone for my sins and to save my soul? How can I behold you dead, hanging on this tree, and not love you with all my strength? Can I think that my sins have reduced you to this condition, and not weep always with intense sorrow for the offenses that I have committed against you? O Jesus … remember that you did promise that when you would be elevated on the cross, you would draw all hearts to you. Behold, my heart, softened into tenderness by your death, will no longer resist your calls. Draw all its affections to your love. You have died for me, and I wish to live only for you… .I thank you for the light which you give me, in making me see in these wounds and lacerated members, as through so many lattices, your great and tender affection for me… My Jesus gives himself to me, and I give myself entirely to him… .Come, O Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with the love of you. Source: WAU.org
by Father David Daly, LCGospel: John 18-19 (NKJV)
Bible Reading:Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane18 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"5 They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth."Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.7 Then He asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?"And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."8 Jesus answered, "I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way," 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none."10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"Before the High Priest12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. 13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.Peter Denies Jesus15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another[a] disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?"He said, "I am not."18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.Jesus Questioned by the High Priest19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.20 Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet,[b] and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said."22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?"23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?"24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Peter Denies Twice More25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are not also one of His disciples, are you?"He denied it and said, "I am not!"26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.In Pilate's Court28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?"30 They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you."31 Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law."Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death," 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"34 Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?"35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?"36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."37 Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?"Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.Taking the Place of Barabbas39 "But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"40 Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.The Soldiers Mock Jesus19 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. 3 Then they said,[c] "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands.4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him."Pilate's Decision5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him."7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our[d] law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God."8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?"11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!"Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?"The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.[e]The King on a Cross17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, Good Friday is the day when you conquered sin by your death on the cross. You showed your mercy to be indestructible. The more the offenses thrown against you, the greater the forgiveness that came from your Sacred Heart. Thank you, Lord, for your humble, generous gift of yourself amidst such terrible suffering. I wish to accompany you closely today in your Passion. I wish to know you and to follow you more closely all the days of my life. Petition: Lord, convince my heart that you truly died out of personal love for me. 1. The Affirmation: "I AM". These are the courageous words of Christ before the cohort of soldiers sent to apprehend him in the garden of Gethsemane. They are the same words that God used to describe himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They are the words that have been used in Christian thought to refer to the Creator of all existing things. They are words in which Christ recognizes and proclaims his divinity before the soldiers. For this reason, they turned around and fell to the ground. As we meditate on Christ's Passion, let us remember his divinity. He is my God and he is my Savior. 2. The Denial: "I am not." These words of Peter stand in stark contrast to the words proclaiming Christ's divinity. We could say that they represent all that is weak and fragile in man, expressed through the mouth of St. Peter. Unlike Christ in the garden, Peter stands by a warm fire and responds to a young servant girl. He denies being a follower of Christ and, in doing so, confirms his own weakness and his need for God's grace and mercy. We should identify with Peter and recognize our need for Christ's sacrifice. When "I Am Not"? When do I let my human fragility get the better of me and pull me down? What do I need to do to avoid the pitfalls in my life and be a more faithful follower of Christ? 3. Out of Love for Me: This Gospel scene juxtaposes Peter's denial and Christ's sentence to death. Even though Christ's death would have happened without Peter's denial, what was its effect on Our Lord? Jesus was dying for Peter and all people in order to save us from our sins. Peter's lack of faith and love did not change that. But when he turned again and believed, he recognized that Jesus had done it all for him, and from then on he proclaimed it far and wide. May the Lord help us to realize that Christ sees all of our actions and they either console him or add to the pain of so many infidelities. We need to work steadily to build a second nature within ourselves so that in moments of temptation our heart turns first to Jesus, considers the offense we might cause him and then our will kicks in to reject doing wrong and thus please Our Lord and Savior. Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, as I contemplate your loving self-giving on Good Friday, I ask you to fill my heart with a deeper knowledge and love of you. All of my infidelities and weaknesses contribute to what you have suffered. You did it out of love for me and for each one of my brothers and sisters. Thank you. Resolution: I resolve to ask for the personal experience of Christ's love today, especially when considering his passion and death. Source: Regnum ChristiJESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,' but, ‘He said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:"They divided My garments among them,
By: Msgr. Charles PopeWhen I was younger, and through my seminary years, I had usually seen the crucifix and Jesus' suffering on the Cross in somber tones. It was my sin that put Him there, had made Him suffer. The Cross was something that compelled a silent reverence and suggested to me that I meditate deeply on what Jesus had to go through. I would also think of Mary, John, and the other women beneath the Cross mournfully beholding Jesus as He was slowly and painfully dying. These were heavy and somber notes but deeply moving themes. In addition, the crucifix reminded me that I must carry my cross and go through the Fridays of my life. I needed to learn the meaning of sacrifice. Liturgically, I also saw the crucifix as a way of restoring greater reverence in the Mass. Through the '70s and '80s, parishes had largely removed crucifixes, often replacing them with "resurrection crosses" or just an image of Jesus floating in mid-air. I used to call this image "touchdown Jesus" since He floated in front of the Cross with His arms up in the air as if signaling a touchdown. In those years we had moved away from the understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice and were more into "meal theology." The removal of the crucifix from the sanctuary was a powerful indicator of this shift. Many priests and liturgists saw the Cross as too "somber" a theme for their vision of a new and more welcoming Church, upbeat and positive. This "cross-less" Christianity tended to lead to what I thought was a rather silly, celebratory style of Mass in those years and I came to see the restoration of the crucifix as a necessary remedy to restore proper balance. I was delighted when, in the mid '80s and later, the Vatican began insisting in new liturgical norms that a crucifix (not just a cross) be prominent in the sanctuary and visible to all, and further, that the processional Cross had to bear the image of Christ crucified (it could not just be a bare cross). Balance Restored - I was (and still am) very happy about these new norms because they restore the proper balance in seeing the Mass as making present the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. It is also a sacred meal, but it is the sacrifice that gives it its power. I also thought that such a move would help bring proper solemnity back to the Mass; to some extent this has been true. All of this background is just to say that I saw the Cross, the crucifix, in somber, serious tones, a theme that was meant to instill solemnity and sobriety, a meditation on the awful reality of sin and our need to repent. And all of this is fine and true. But the Lord wasn't finished with me yet. He wanted me to see another understanding of the Cross. He wanted to balance my balance! In effect, He also wanted me to experience the "good" in Good Friday. For while the Cross is everything described above, it is also a place of victory and love, of God's faithfulness and our deliverance. There's a lot to celebrate at the foot of the Cross. It happened one Sunday in Lent of 1994, one of my first in an African-American Catholic parish. It being Lent, I expected the highly celebratory quality of Mass to be scaled back a bit. But, much to my surprise, the opening song began with an upbeat, toe-tapping gospel riff. At first I frowned. But then the choir began to sing:
Down at the cross where my Savior died,Ah, so this WAS a Lenten theme! But how unusual for me to hear the Cross being sung of so joyfully! (You can hear the song in the video below; try not to tap your toe too much.) It was something quite new for me. Perhaps it shouldn't have been but it was. The Catholicism of the '70s and '80s had found it necessary to remove the Cross to celebrate. But here was celebration with and in the Cross! Here was the good in Good Friday.
The Choir continued,Congregation and choir were stepping in time and clapping, rejoicing in the Cross, seeing it in the resurrection light of its saving power and as a glorious reflection of God's love for us. Up the aisle the procession wound and the last verse was transposed up a half-step in an even brighter key:
Oh, precious fountain that saves from sin,Yes, indeed, glory to His name! A lot of dots were connected for me that day. The Cross was indeed a place of great pain but also great love; there was grief but also glory; there was suffering but also victory. Please do not misunderstand my point. There is a time and place for quiet, somber reflection at the foot of the Cross. All the things said above are true. But one of the glories of the human person is that we can have more than one feeling at a time. We can even have opposite feelings at almost the same moment! The Balance - Some in the Church of the '70s and '80s rejected the Cross as too somber, too negative. They wanted to be more upbeat, less focused on sin. And so out went the Cross. There was no need to do this; it was unbalanced. For at the Cross the vertical, upward pillar of man's pride and sin is transected by the horizontal, outstretched arms of God's love. With strong hand and outstretched arms the Lord has won the victory for us: there at the cross where he took me in, glory to His name! The balance is for the individual and for the Church. Some prefer a more somber meditation on the Cross to prevail while others feel moved by the Spirit to celebrate joyfully at the foot of the Cross. The Church needs both and I suppose we all need some of both experiences. Yes, it right to weep at the Cross, to behold the awful reality of sin, to remember Christ's sacrifice. But we should rejoice, too, for the Lord has won victory for us right there: Down at the Cross. There's a lot of good in Good Friday. Here is the song I heard that Sunday in 1994, sung in very much the style I remember. Video Source: Archdiocese of Washington Blog
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