A reflection for Good Friday…
As Jesus was nailed to the hard wood of the cross his followers stood in the crowd. They watched the blood pour out of his body when the soldiers pierced his side. They watched his body being wrapped in cloth and buried in a tomb. They cried tears of deep grief at the sight of his limp, lifeless body. Their great teacher and leader, the love of their lives, their purpose…gone.
Everything they had committed their lives to over the past few years was brutally destroyed in front of their very eyes. And even though Jesus had told them that he would rise on the third day, they were still frightened and confused. They didn’t really know what he had meant. They were only human after all.
We can sit here, over two thousand years later, and judge these disciples. Why were their hearts so troubled? Why didn’t they believe? Because we know the ending of the story, or, better said, the new beginning that was launched when Jesus rose from the dead.
But can we put ourselves in the disciple’s shoes (sandals) for a moment? Just imagine what it felt like to have Jesus taken from you and killed in the most brutal way possible. He was guilty of nothing, this you knew, and yet he was forced to die an ugly and unbearable criminal’s death. The injustice of it all was almost too much to bear.
He was supposed to be your saviour, your conquerer, your redeemer. But here he was hanging dead on a cross, killed by the very hands of the people he was supposed to overcome. What would it feel like to be Mary Magdelene standing at the foot of the cross, seeing the anguish in her Lord’s eyes, her beloved Rabboni. She had devoted everything to him, and now he was gone. There she stood helpless at his feet wondering, What on earth am I supposed to do now? What is the point of anything anymore?
What would it feel like to have your entire way of life, to have everything you believed in, ripped out from under you?
Have we ever felt this deep grief and despair, this overwhelming fear and confusion? We’re certainly feeling it now in the midst of this pandemic. So much has been taken from us and for that we grieve. We grieve the loss of our sense of safety, our freedom to come and go as we please, to meet with our friends, share meals, join hands together in worship and prayer. And we don’t know how this story ends. We don’t know when our victory moment will come. There are still so many unanswered questions.
Maybe we do have a little glimpse into the pain and hopelessness the disciple’s felt. The fear of the unknown. Their cries of pain and grief. For some of us in this time, tears still hang wet on our cheeks.
Today let’s remember what they saw, and not forget their pain for it is also ours. Let’s not forget what Christ endured because of our ignorance, our unbelief, our hatred and jealousy. Let’s not forget that he cried “Father, forgive them” even while we still doubted and before we even bent a knee in repentance.
And let this love, his self-giving Love, start to chip away at the ice on our hearts, and pierce through our self-reliance and pride, and find us on our knees yearning for him to raise us up from our graves in new life with him.