Good Friday Reflection

Good Friday Reflection

Text: John 13:31-38; Zechariah 12:10-13:2
April 10, 2020

10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 11 “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 “The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. 1 “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. 2 “It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. (Zechariah 12:10-13:2)

31 Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times. (John 13:31-38)

In Zechariah, exiled people are finally returning to their homeland – to Jerusalem – to rebuild the city and try to resettle their great-grandparent’s country. God had finally answered all those desperate prayers and songs about going home – and the day had finally come. But Jerusalem was in ruin. And there were enemies all around. Was this really the answer to prayer? Had God really come through for them?

And then Thursday night of Passover week… Jesus had called his disciples together and taught them about true servanthood by washing their feet. And they began the Passover meal. What could be better than the great welcome the previous Sabbath, when crowds cheered their Lord, and this moment of fellowship together? Then Jesus starts talking about betrayal, and tells Peter he’s going to betray him by morning.

A few months ago we heard about a virus in China, then a few cases in the U.S., then it was declared a world-wide pandemic. What of prayer? What of God’s blessings? Is this for real?? Is this the life we signed up for?

Here’s the problem… life is a mixed bag. Listen how mixed the message was to those Exiles – Zechariah prophesied to them: “          God will pour out the Spirit of grace and of supplication.” Sounds great, right? Grace… access to God through prayer. But the prophet continues… “They will mourn as one mourns for an only son… the will weep like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

What does that mean? God was speaking to his people… and to us, to say that he will be present with us. But he was also saying that life would still be full of pain and sorrow. That is just the way it is.

And would anyone really argue to the contrary? Would anyone take an honest look at life and say that there is a rosy path through the thorns? Is there pain-free life to be had? That simply is not the testimony of scripture nor an honest approach to life.

But God does not leave us dangling… He did not leave his people alone there in Jerusalem; He did not abandon the disciples to the world; and He does not leave you alone and without hope.

God’s answer to life’s dilemmas is just as complex as life is. Should God just snap his fingers and make all things right? No – Zechariah spoke of God’s solution, and it is no easy fix: “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.”

What in the world would that have sounded like to the Hebrew people that heard it. God was high and holy – revealed in history only as a fiery cloud or a mighty storm, and perhaps to Moses, whose face had to be covered to protect his life from the encounter. And now God is saying that his people will look on Him! And PIERCE him. The prophesy says that the outpouring of God’s Spirit would result in or accompany the wounding of God Himself. Unthinkable!! That God should suffer that we might know grace? I’m not sure how those listening to Zechariah could have interpreted that.

I do think that Zechariah’s prophesy would have rung with astounding clarity to those standing at the foot of the cross. This teacher who had claimed kinship with God was suddenly pierced through. Unthinkable!! Yet, Zechariah somehow links that unthinkable act with the outpouring of God’s grace.

The cross was the culmination of God’s response to the human condition. The cross was God’s answer to the problem of being human and trying to survive in this world. The cross was God’s declaration to us of his love, his identification with our suffering, and his invitation to hope.

The wounds of Christ – the water, the blood – they were God’s gifts of love to us, to do for us what we could not and cannot do. We cannot defeat death; we cannot overcome sin; we cannot beat back evil. But God can and God did – in Jesus, on the cross.

Are you hurting? Have you suffered? Are you disappointed with God? Listen to this good news – and it is good news. God loves you and knows the depths of what you have experienced. He has taken the hurt of the world into himself so that we might have hope.

God’s reach is wide and his love strong. Listen to these scriptures set to music. Listen to God’s response to our lives – as complex as it is complete. Jesus Christ has been pierced for us to show us the full reach of God’s love.

“The Reach of Love” – a song by Robert Austell and Gerrit Dawson reflecting on Good Friday

THE REACH OF LOVE
By Gerrit Dawson and Robert Austell

Savior slain, why were you rent by a spear?
“These wounds I got at the house of my friends.”
As prophet told, look on him whom we pierced,
See the blood and water spilled at the end.

Water through the cruel channel of skin
Covers the earth, not with rage but with grace.
Your side the fountainhead, flowing again
The River of Life that cleanses our race.

Out of your wounds there flow dear gifts from above.
The blood and water show the full reach of Love.

The blood poured out in waste after you died
Fills the festive cup with love’s gentle flood.
Babes at mother’s breast, we drink from your side
The sweet forgiveness in water and blood.

Out of your wounds there flow dear gifts from above.
The blood and water show the full reach of Love.
Out of your wounds there flows… the full reach of Love.

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