Watch the video of today’s Good Friday service here. The Gospel reading and sermon start at about 25 minutes and continue for a total of about 25 minutes. If you want to hear me sing, you can also skip to about 1 hour and 18 minutes, as I lead the singing of “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle”.
Today is Good Friday on which we commemorate the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God. Part of what is so remarkable, even shocking, is that it is not just Jesus the man who suffers and dies, but God the Son who suffers and dies.
From the moment of his incarnation, separating out the second person of the Trinity into human form, God began to experience life as a human. This reaches a climax on the cross, when the evil and darkness of this world crashes into the Son of God. It is the whole person of Jesus – with both his human and his divine natures – who suffers and dies on the cross – not just the human Jesus.
- Christ experiences the sins of all the world – past, present and future – falling upon him, leaving him feeling dirty, tainted, defiled. No wonder he says, “I thirst”.
- Christ experiences sin’s separation from God – an ocean of sin distancing him from the Father with whom he had already existed for eternity. No wonder he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”.
- Christ experiences the surprise of human love, and the ways in which compassion between people brings God into our midst. Thus he says to his mother, “Woman, here is your son” and to his beloved disciple, “Here is your mother”.
- Christ experiences the grace of God, able to transform the darkest and most painful into a moment of salvation and glory. Thus he is able to say, “It is finished!”
- Christ experiences death – the loss of life, the loss of this world, the loss of self. John writes poetically, “He bowed his head and gave up his spirit”.
As much as we might want to end today’s story with a ‘Happy Easter’, scripture does not permit this. We have to end with the darkness that covers that earth as the Son of God’s light and life is snuffed out. And we wait in silence and hope for his resurrection.