Luke 23:32-34; 44-49: ‘Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.’
‘It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.’
The holy season of Lent is sometimes defined by symbols. We remember the stories, and hopefully the meaning, that is associated with ashes and palm leaves, by bread, wine, and towels, and by a bare cross. I have, as many of you, a collection of crosses and I value each one. And all of them are bare of a human figure, because the cross was not the end of the story.
The narrative of Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, is one of the most horrific stories I have ever read. I have read the description of death by crucifixion in medical journals, and Bill O’Reilly’s book dealing with the political background surrounding the crucifixion, but Jim Bishop wrote the best, “The Day Christ Died.” Each of them makes me wonder why God allowed Jesus to endure that experience. Was it necessary to go through that horror to enable a person like me to be forgiven. I have sometimes felt like the Jewish leaders who taunted Jesus by saying, “Come down from the cross, so that we may see it and believe.” (Mark 15:32)
General William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, explained it best. “It is because Jesus did not come down from the cross that I believe in him.”
Good Friday means that there is no limit to God’s love, that there is nothing in the entire universe that God will not do on our behalf.
That is the primary reason we call it Good Friday.
Prayer: Thank you, heavenly Father, for your willingness to suffer on our behalf. Help us to never forget the depths to which you will go for our spiritual salvation.
Reverend Dr. Regi Thackston
Trinity UMC Pastor Emeritus