Seeing from the Cross

Click here to listen to this 18-minute message.

Today is Good Friday – a poorly named day in my view. It should be Dark Friday. The Passion Week is transformed to good on Easter Sunday, but not before. There is nothing good about Friday. But my opinion is unlikely to change centuries of tradition!

Today, at my Anglican community church in Irene, South Africa, we participate in a three-hour service, from 12pm to 3pm – the hours that Jesus hung on the cross. It is a kind of vigil, like the women who kept watch as Jesus hung there. It is one of the best attended services at our church, and most people stay the full time. Today, we used the Seven Last Words of Christ to structure our service. The priest, deacon and lay ministers shared the preaching. I preached on the passage from John 19:25-27, where Jesus says “Woman, behold! Your son. … Behold! Your mother.” (my translation).

The central thing that stands out for me is that Jesus SEES his mother and his friend (thought to be John, the disciple). And seeing them and their need, he invites them to SEE each other (the Greek for ‘behold’, or ‘here’ in other translations, means ‘Look!’ or ‘See!’). So, in this sermon I suggest four layers of meaning:

  1. The passage foregrounds the humanity, dignity and worth of women, as central to the story. We need to stand against patriarchy, violence against women, the silencing and marginalisation of women, the exploitation of girl children.
  2. The passage speaks about Jesus’ commitment to family and to intimate relationships. We need to invest in these relationships, in the domestic, because this is of interest to God.
  3. The passage suggests the great potential of the church to recreate the world. We should examine our own churches, asking if we are really doing what God wants us to, are we being who God wants us to be?
  4. The passage advances God’s concern and love for the whole of humanity. God sees us, knows us, recognises us, loves us, champions us, cries for us. And we should also.

Wishing you a blessed and joyful Easter 2016.
Adrian

P.S. I struggled to find a picture that depicts what Jesus would have seen from the cross. The arts are almost entirely focused on Jesus on the cross – rightly so. But I found this one by James Tissot, a French painter, painted in c. 1890. For those receiving this by email, you won’t see the featured image for each of my sermons. Follow the link to my blog to see them.

6 thoughts on “Seeing from the Cross

  1. Trevor Evans says:

    Dear Adrian,

    Thank you for this. As I sit here in England, quietly, I had the opportunity to listen to your words by myself.

    As ever, your insight, analysis and gentle exhortation to be better were wonderfully woven. I am sure that all of the double Xs in the congregation would have been more than uplifted by your reflections and rightly so; God knows, only too well, that we men need the tempering strength of women.

    As I recall you are inclined to spend Holy Saturday at home, waiting for tomorrow. I hope that you have a joyful day tomorrow!

    Happy Easter 2016.

    Best wishes,

    Trevor.

    Sent from my iPhone and the assistance of a WiFi Angel.😇

    >

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    • Thank you Trevor for your thoughtful reflections on my reflection. Yes, I am staying at home, as far as possible. My niece is having her 21st birthday today, and so I putting my love for her before my spiritual discipline. I think this is right. Blessings, Adrian

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  2. Genevieve Geekie says:

    Once again, thank you Adrian

    Indeed, I agree; I have always thought that “good” Friday is a singularly inappropriate naming for Passion Friday. The irony has always confounded me.

    Mmm; Women, Family, Church, Humanity: a profound analyses of the visions of Jesus, especially now for our country and our world.

    Much love at Easter Time. and always

    Gen

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    • Thanks Gen. Perhaps the irony is intentional? The bitter-sweetness of the cross? I always feel like that on Good Friday in our church – we start with the triumphal entry and the hosannas and the palms, and it is all so happy; and then we read the long passion story. The dissonant juxtaposition is so disturbing and powerful. Love and blessings, Adrian

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  3. Dearest AD

    Thank you for you heart turned toward the cross-toward Jesus Christ and his heart, His heart in action.
    Thank you for sharing what He placed on your heart, that we might see and know/experience just a little more of God’s incredible, unfathomable love.
    Thank you.

    Yours in Him,
    Sandy

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