I shared this as the WCC Daily Reflection for Good Friday and I wanted to share it with you here.
Verse of the day:
“It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.” Luke 23:44-46
Voice of the day:
Sometimes it is in the darkness of a moment that God can effect the deepest change we need to bring us from what is false to what is true, from a perspective of self-reliance to a fresh perspective of God-reliance.
But please, do not let the idea that God does transforming work in the darkness lead you to believe that God causes the darkness, something that deals out dehumanizing suffering and pain, disease and death. These things do not come from the goodness of God. It isn’t the reign of Christ that ushers in the darkness. It is, as Paul says, the reign of sin and death that ushers in this darkness. The sinful pride of life, greed, violence, fear-mongering, power-grabbing, and injustices of all kinds—these are the seeds planted in the soil of the fields tended by the reign of sin and death, and its crop is always darkness.
But on Good Friday we remember that God does not leave us to be overcome by the darkness. Not even the worst the darkness has to offer, not even death itself, can overcome God’s beloved children. God has been through the darkness before. God knows what it’s like. In the darkness of that Friday when the body of Jesus hung nailed upon a cross, God felt the weight of the darkness ushered in by the reign of sin and death. And even though it brought Christ death, it did not overtake Him. The morning light of resurrection Sunday was coming.
The Scriptures teach us that we can be sure that no matter what dark Friday we find ourselves in, the morning light of resurrection Sunday is coming.
But for today it can do us well to contemplate the cross. Don’t rush to resurrection. It will come. For now sit in the shadow of the cross. See how the wrath of the reign of sin and death is exemplified on the cross and how the love of God is magnified on the cross. Hear the crowds sing “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday and scream “Crucify him!” on Friday. See his friends abandon him after one friend betrays him. See the rigged trials and the unjust accusations and abuse he suffered. See Christ executed and murdered on the cross as an enemy of the state. See how God in Christ takes upon himself the full weight of the reign of sin and death in the form of humanity’s absolute sinful rebellion, utter shame, and gruesome violence, and endures it with us, for us.
“The cross is not what the Father inflicts upon the Son in order to forgive the world. The cross is what God in Christ endures as he forgives the world. On the cross Jesus does not save us from God; on the cross Jesus reveals God as Savior.” ~ Brian Zahnd, Pastor Theologian
Prayer of the day:
Lord, on the cross I see the worst of our humanity. In the story told throughout Holy Week I see the pride of life that has plagued us since the garden of Eden. I see the works of the Enemy exemplified by the powers and principalities. I see the greed and power-grabbing of the religious and political leaders, the betrayal and abandonment of friends, the fear-mongering in the unjust accusations and rigged trials. I see the scorn and shame Jesus endured. I see him “as a lamb led to the slaughter, yet did not defend himself.” I see humanity’s absolute rebellion against divine love. I confess that I have seen and felt this rebellion at work in me. So I look to you, our God upon a cross, and thank you for your liberating love and forgiveness. I thank you for your grace. I thank you for allowing the darkness of the reign of sin and death to take you captive on this cross so that we can be freed from captivity. Help me to ponder the meaning of the cross today. Prepare my heart for the waiting and tension Holy Saturday and the power and joy of Resurrection Sunday. And thank you Lord that the cross is not the end of the story. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, three in One.