Good Friday

This is my Good Friday homily – I don’t have a pulpit to preach it in, but it’s what is on my heart today…

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

John 16:31-17:5

There are times I am very grateful I do not know everything that is going to happen in my life. And then there are times when I desperately want a peek into the future. I guess that I am in good company, as the men and women who were with Jesus as he walked and taught in Galilee. They faced the same issues. They wanted to be given privileged positions and confirmed answers to their questions.

This passage always chills me a little, as Christ was given a spiritual insight into the hearts and lives of the disciples and the tests ahead of them. Yet Jesus’ prayer was focused on the work he was about to do on the cross, and moved by the Spirit to ask for the strength to be obedient until his death.

It’s one thing to pray for answers to the questions you have for the future. It’s quite another to pray, knowing what you must give up in order for God’s will to be done. The wrenching that must have been in Jesus’ heart as he prayed must have been exquisite.He believed in the ultimate best for them all – and desired above all else to bring glory to God.

This particular prayer of Jesus came at the end of a week that started with joy and triumph and proclamations of the Kingdom of God. And it came on the precipice of a painful weekend, when the hard truth of death and the pain of loss would be keenly felt. Those who ran away from the cross and the persecution of the Christ had no clue that God had already made a way. That is the message of the Cross – that God has made a way.

We may be in a rocky Good Friday in our lives, when everything we’ve hoped and believed is crashing down around our heads…

  • It might be a financial disaster.
  • It might be a relationship that seems broken beyond repair.
  • It might be emotional pain that exceeds anything you have ever faced.
  • It might be a diagnosis that sends you into a panic.
  • It might be the realization that you have made a huge error, and have to ‘fess up to it, facing the consequences.

I have been in those moments. It is beyond scary. It seems impossible.

Jesus quoted the words of David in Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Words of pure pain. Raw emotion. Doubt. Maybe even anger. Jesus knew these feelings intimately.

That same Psalm bursts into words of faith and promise a few verses later:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

Words of faith. Hope. Trust. They are true for us today.

There is nothing that is beyond the reach of Grace. Nothing that can’t be lived out with God’s love motivating you. Good Friday and Silent Saturday are hard stretches, believe me, I know. The pain is real — and if you are living there, I do not want to minimize it. God seems far away. The answers are not easy, when you do finally hear them. And no amount of positive thinking will take away the pain of sin in the human race. Only Grace does that.

But Easter has come. Hope is there.

I have walked in some pretty rough spots, seeing the empty cross and tomb in front of me. But I have also seen God’s faithfulness.

Perhaps you are in that place of worry or fear or just exhaustion. The love of God is real and tangible. It was given center stage almost 2000 years ago in the birth and death of Jesus, the Christ. It comes to us, new, fresh and real every morning. After long, dark nights of waiting.

I will watch and pray with you – and believe for you if you are in a space that makes belief difficult. If you look around you and ask for confirmation of God’s love and care for you, the evidence will come pouring into your life. In fact, here’s my challenge to you —

Take a moment – grab a piece of paper – and write down all the good things in your life. If you need help, try the alphabet. A is for apples and Aunt ___ — B is for buds on the trees… keep going. (Good luck with Q and X!)

It sounds simple, but when we are in these moments of worry or fear or living with what seems to be insurmountable odds, reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness can build a swell of hope in our hearts. Hope builds our faith. And faith helps us keep walking – towards the sunrise of Easter morning.

Let us pray:

God,
We who often beg for answers are scared when we finally receive them.
Walk with us in the dark stretches of Good Fridays and Silent Saturdays.
Show us the pinprick of light that is the reality of Easter Sunday.
We believe in your love.
We thank you for your Son, Jesus, the Christ,
Who died, and rose again and lives again with you – One God, Father, Christ, Holy Spirit…
Amen.

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