For this long day we have a long reading: John chs 18 & 19
This is the whole story of Jesus’ condemnation and execution, starting in the Garden of Gethsemane, taking in Jesus’ arrest and trials, the denial by Peter, his abuse by Pilate’s henchmen, and then the crucifixion itself, followed by his burial. Read it slowly, notice details you may have glossed over in the past. Allow this story to sink deeply into your understanding, your life.
The New Testament invites us to come to the Cross as we read the story again, and to see there the wonder of what Jesus has done for us. He was crucified for us; he endured all that for human beings; he has transformed the history, the direction of the world at the cross. We give thanks for that objective reality today.
But the New Testament also invites us into an intimacy, a union with Jesus crucified. Good Friday is not just good because in it we see what Jesus has done for us, but also because we are invited to share in his death. Jesus himself prayed for us in John 17 v.20-21 that all who believe in him might ‘be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.’ Paul says ‘we have been united with him…in his death’ (Romans 6 v.5).
This unity comes as we use our imagination to place ourselves at the Cross itself, joining the Marys and John at that awful place; this unity comes as we offer ourselves back to Jesus in thankfulness for his offering of himself; this unity comes as we open our lives to the work of his Holy Spirit; this unity comes as we unite with others who are in Christ. It’s the last bit that we find difficult to do at the moment, but we can engage with our fellow Christians through our online worship and prayer at the moment. The New Testament always talks about ‘us…you plural… they…’ when it speaks of our union with Christ.
Look and be thankful; hear the invitation and come deeper into Christ. That is our calling this Good Friday.
And remember the whole of what Paul tells us in Romans 6 v.5: For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
There is more to come – it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
We glory in your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection: for by virtue of the cross joy has come to the whole world.
(from the Liturgy of Good Friday)