John – Chapters 18 & 19
What can one say on Good Friday that has not already been said? The story is very familiar to all of us and there are so many great meditations already written, why should I write another? Well, for two reasons—because I can, but really because in order to get into the story, I need to meditate on it. Writing helps me do this.
Our children hated Good Friday. They thought it was gruesome so they didn’t want to go to church on Good Friday to be reminded. An old Johnny Hart cartoon comes to mind—actually, I saw it again on Facebook and that reminded me. Person 1 says: “I hate the term ‘Good Friday!’” Person 2: “Why?” P1. “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” P2. “If you were going to be hanged on that day, and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?” P1. “Good.” P2. “Have a nice day.”
Perhaps, Person 2 should say, “Have a Good day.” It doesn’t really look or feel like a good day, though, does it? A Good day almost requires standing on the other side of the cross from where the disciples are standing, and that’s not where we are today. Jesus and his disciples are in a garden. He has asked that they stay awake and pray for him and for themselves but they could not. There are other times the disciples will fail, today. Watch as the story unfolds. Once again, let’s try to put ourselves into it as one of them. It is found in the account from John.
Judas, has already betrayed Jesus and, now, he brings soldiers and police to the place where he knows Jesus will be so they can arrest him. Was that a glance between Judas and Jesus? Even though, Jesus knows what is happening, this must be a blow. We, his disciples have no clue. What are we thinking, now? We don’t understand all of his teaching, but we have seen the works of God that Jesus has done. Are we wrong about Jesus being the Messiah? Why is he being arrested? Why doesn’t he stop this? Peter, once again, takes matters into his own hands, draws his sword and cuts off a slave’s ear. Jesus rebukes him and says something about drinking from a cup his Father has given him. What?
These, and more, are the stories of today. These are humiliation stories, rejection stories, abandonment stories, stories of torture and they are not pretty. The disciples run away, Peter denies knowing him, the Jewish leaders that he had hoped to turn around rejected him. But, Jesus’ love and purpose transcends his disappointment and pain. Unconditional love has a way of doing that.And this is the story of Love. And this is our story.
Questions to ponder – When do I betray Jesus? When do I take matters into my own hands instead of waiting for God’s purpose to unfold? When do I believe that God does not understand how I feel? Will I ever be able to love like this?
“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain—for me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? – Charles Wesley