March 21, 2008
Isaiah 52:13—53:12 Psalm 22:1-21
Our story ends with Jesus being put in the tomb and sealed up so no one can steal his body and claim he has been raised from the dead. This is a most unsatisfactory ending for the Christian community. It is unsatisfactory because as Christians we are “resurrection people”. And the ending today feels completely wrong. As Paul Harvey says, we want to know “the rest of the story.” But for that we will have to wait for this Sunday.
Today we remember that the only way to resurrection, to Easter Sunday is through the pain and betrayal of the cross. And so we leave the story unfinished.
Instead of the resurrection, today we remember a culmination of betrayals. The movie “The Passion of the Christ” would call us to focus on the physical abuse and violence which Jesus suffered. But as we read the story today there is much more for us to consider. Jesus experienced a long litany of betrayals leading up to his death on the cross.
Jesus first experiences the betrayal of Judas.
Then Jesus experiences the betrayal of the rest of the disciples, all of whom abandon him. Jesus’ closest followers, his friends and constant companions for the past three years fail him and flee when the chips are down. The shared experiences of their life with him were not strong enough to cover come their feelings of fear and terror as they saw Jesus being arrested.
Next Jesus experiences the betrayal of Peter who denies him not once, but three times. In spite of a warning ahead of time and Peter’s most ardent claim of loyalty, Jesus is again betrayed.
Jesus then experienced the betrayal of Pilate, who knowing he is innocent, nevertheless washes his hands of the matter and sends him to his death.
And as we vividly experienced in the Gospel reading today, Jesus experienced the betrayal of each one of us. As we joined as part of the crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified, we live out in a very real way the reality that Jesus also died because of our betrayal to sin.
We have a wonderful song in our hymnal called “Ah, Holy Jesus”. It is a powerful song and the second verse goes like this:
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.
We need to realize in our own lives that it was not the Jews who crucified Jesus. It was not the Romans who crucified Jesus. Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee, I crucified thee.
On this Good Friday, let us meditate on that. I it was denied thee, I crucified thee.