Why is it a Good Friday? Our Reconciliation, Our God's Character
What can I say about the cross that hasn’t already been said? There is no other event in human history that has been scrutinised more than this one.
It’s the moment when everything changed, a universe shattering moment.
But what can we compare that moment to? I’m sure many of us for years to come will say, remember when Notre Damme burned down, where were you when it happened?
For those who worship there, it must’ve been like the world was turned upside down.
Where were you on 9/11? If your memory stretches back that far? That was a moment that shook the world, that changed the world forever, in the wake of its horror the world changed. We stood still, our mouths agape, unable to comprehend the tragedy of what was unfolding in front of us.
Our universe was turned upside down. Nothing would be the same again. Nearly twenty years on, we’re still feeling the affects of that event in our society today.
Imagine then, how the disciples must’ve felt. Their lives for the past couple of years had been devoted to this man, the man who said he was the Son of God. Their world was turned upside down on that Good Friday.
The man they loved, betrayed by them, abandoned by them hung there on the cross.
It was for them and us he hung there, with nails hammered into his hands, enduring the agony of a death that would take hours. A death not by blood loss, but by suffocation.
Innocent, blameless, and yet there our God hung. For us. But why?
For those he loved, and for us.
Jesus suffered at the hands of those he created. Through the cross Jesus reaches into our pain, experiences it, binds it all in himself and destroys it.
Was the cross for God or for us? Was it because God needed to sacrifice something, needed to inflict pain on someone instead of us?
Or was it for us? It was for us, on that cross Jesus bound all the pain, all the anger, all the sin that we will ever do, suffered it all for us, bound it up and reconciled us to God through it.
The cross says, ENOUGH. No more violence. It breaks the never ending cycle of sin, anger and violence. It casts down the mighty from their thrones, and lifts up the lowly.
We needed the cross to take away our sin, to reconcile us to God because God loves us. God didn’t need a scapegoat, We needed a scapegoat, something to spit at.
God says here I am, despite your spitting, I love you. This is my character, this is who I am. I am the God that will go for you, even beyond death. Even though you abandon me, I will not abandon you.
The story of the cross is a classic in human history. An innocent person, who is politically inconvenient is murdered by the state and those in power so he’s out of the way. If there’s any story that indicates everything that’s wrong with both us and capital punishment it’s the example of Jesus on the cross.
It has the example of every sin we commit. Moral cowardice, the way that Pilate acts. Apostasy by the disciples. Covetousness, through the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing. Anger, through the way the crowd acts. Cruelty, through the sour wine and nails in Jesus’ hands. Murder, by what they did to him. Many more are in this text.
Yet despite all this, God still will not abandon us.
Through the cross our lives are changed forever, because we catch a glimpse of the God that loves us so much, that will not let us go, that doesn’t force us to love Him, that wants us to be with Him.
Our lives are transformed by this vast sea of grace. We no longer need to hate, because it’s ridiculous in the light of the love shown to us.
We no longer need to be unforgiving, because it’s ridiculous in the light of the forgiveness shown to us.
Through the cross of Jesus we are reconciled to God, and see God’s character. We love God because of what He’s done for us. We worship God not because we have to, but because we want to, and in the face of all this, who wouldn’t want to know God more.
The world has been turned upside down, through God that is with us and in us.
In gratitude we come to God, but also in sorrow. We are unworthy, but God doesn’t hold that against us.
Unlike 9/11 this terrible, earth shattering event, brings hope and reconciliation. Now we sit in the space between life and death, we wait and watch with Jesus on the cross.
His death brings us life, now in this transformed grace filled life we go forward, know you are loved, you are forgiven.
Live your life with gratitude, and be the best you can, for through God’s love acting in us, the world will be changed.
Preached 19/04/19 at St Peter Mancroft Church