An act of worship at home
2nd April 2021
Lord we have journeyed. We have journeyed with You into the streets of Jerusalem. We have walked with the crowd, raising shouts of acclamation! We have journeyed to the table with You, as Your invited guests, and feasted in Your company. Some of us fell asleep as You prayed in the darkness alone; Forgive us Lord. Enable us to journey with you along the path of suffering May we not flinch or turn our face from you. Help us in our weakness to remain faithfully by your side, today, tomorrow and forever.
Reading Matthew 27 vv 21-26
‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ asked the governor.
‘Barabbas,’ they answered.
‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ Pilate asked.
They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’
‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’
All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
As I read the accounts of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death I was struck once more by the sheer horror of what Jesus went through. Here was Jesus, the Son of God, a man of love and grace. Jesus embodying God to all who met and heard him. Jesus falsely accused, tortured, tried and slowly and cruelly executed by being nailed to a cross to die a slow agonizing death.
And in the midst of this whole horrific account is a moment so familiar to us all over the last year. An activity we’ve all been encouraged to engage in repeatedly.
Pilate took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.
It strikes me how this action is one of both parallels and contrasts with our own experience. Pilate washed his hands to symbolically wash away all responsibility for what he was about to do, and yet he still did it. Pilate didn’t wash his hands to protect others but to hammer home their guilt.
The contrast with Jesus couldn’t be more dramatic.
Jesus who took it all on himself, the pain, the horror, the suffering, in order to show God’s love reaching through it all, beyond death itself, setting us all free.
As Pilate washed his hands Jesus washed our souls.
A reflection for Good Friday
Why do we call this Friday “Good” when so many bad things happened?
It is a day of contrasts and of paradox, a day of contradictions.
It is a day of unparalleled evil but we strangely call it “Good”.
God came to earth so that we may go to heaven.
God became human so that we might become divine.
The Son of God became a slave so that we could be set free.
Jesus was rejected so that we might be accepted.
Jesus forgave so that we would forgive.
Jesus was convicted so that we might have conviction.
Jesus was sold so that we could be redeemed.
Jesus was hurt so that we could be healed.
Jesus was scourged – we were purged.
Jesus descended into hell so that might ascend to heaven.
Jesus was crowned with thorns that we might have the crown of eternal life.
The sky went dark so that we might see the light.
The earth shook so that we might be calm.
Jesus was condemned as guilty so that we might be found innocent.
Jesus carried his cross so that Satan’s plan would be crossed out.
Jesus heart was opened by a spear so that our hearts might be opened by love.
Jesus laid in a borrowed tomb for only three days.
This is a day of supreme contrasts, paradox and even contradiction.
Jesus suffered all those bad things, so that we might call
This Friday “Good”.
We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer us the gift of eternal life.
Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely given, what you have done for us.
Thank you Lord that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that because of your huge sacrifice we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your Power is everlasting.
Thank you that we can say with great hope, “It is finished…” For we know what’s still to come. And death has lost its sting. We praise you for you are making all things new.
In Jesus’ name, amen.