Good Friday Breakfast with the Word
Today is Good Friday, the day we remember the agony, pain, torture, suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. No mass is celebrated today.
On Good Friday we gather for a communion service to remember the suffering, agony and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church comes together today to venerate the cross in memory of the passion and crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from where we draw our salvation.
So, today we reflect on the agony of the Lord and the beauty of the cross. The way of the cross is full of pains and agony. One may ask; how is the cross good? Who prays to undergo suffering? Of course none? Is the cross truly good, where lies the beauty of the cross?
Beauty is something that pleases the sense of sight. Beauty is charming, pleasurable and good to behold with the eyes.
On Good Friday, when you look at the cross you see nothing but pains, agony, suffering and something that is not pleasurable to the eyes.
Unlike Eve’s apple that was good to the eyes and nice to eat, at the cross, Jesus was dejected, abandoned, mocked and derided. Where then lies the beauty?
The Way of the Cross.
Before the liturgy of Good Friday, people gather early in the evening around the church to walk through the fourteen stations in remembrance of the suffering of Our Lord Jesus.
Many parishes to make it real, dramatise the passion of Jesus. Many do this to make the observers feel the nature of the suffering Jesus underwent.
Despite the way we present it today, everything about the fourteen stations is full of betrayal, denial, pains, abandonment, suffering, agony, torture, crucifixion and death.
The passion narrative today is in sync with the stories that we hear earlier during the stations of the cross. None of what happened today gladdens the spirit.
At the end of the liturgy, everyone leaves the church in sorrow, silence and tears. There is nothing good that is supposed to be of Good Friday. Where then lies the beauty?
Notions of the Cross.
To know the nature of the cruel death and torture that Jesus underwent through the cross, let us look deeply at what crucifixion with the cross means at the time of Jesus Christ.
To allow one to die on the cross is not just an ordinary death as we may look at it. It goes beyond that to represent oppression, shame, cruelty and the highest form of wickedness. These Jesus underwent, for the sake of salvation.
(i) The Cross is the worst form of oppression and act of wickedness: To make Jesus die through the cross is not only the worst form of oppression but a very act of wickedness.
The death of Jesus on the cross shows how deep was the hatred against the Lord. During the time of Jesus, the Romans used the cross as the worst form of oppression.
In His book “Jewish War” the great Historian Josephus recounted how the Roman prefect Quintilius Varus crucified up to two thousand Jews on the roads leading to Jerusalem (Josephus, Jewish War 2.74-76). Seventy years later, Titus besieged Jerusalem, captured, scourged and crucified up to 500 jews in a day. During the destruction of Jerusalem, many Jews were also crucified by the Romans, to the extent they even ran out of crosses and spaces (Jewish War 5.446-451).
(ii) It is something foolish to die on the cross. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, He described to them that the centre of His message is to preach Christ the crucified(! Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 2:2).
The city of Corinth is known for wisdom. To the people of Corinth, the preaching of the cross was foolishness and nonsense. Paul explained to them that though the Greek city looks for wisdom, he has come to preach Christ the crucified which for the Greeks is an act of foolishness. ( 1 Corinthians 1 :22-25).
The Greek word here is moria, which means “idiocy.” Out of this Greek word comes the word moron. This is how the Corinthians evaluated the crucifixion of Christ.
The cross is for them foolishness. So when we see Jesus hanging on the cross, we see a man who decided to undergo death that many see as an act of foolishness. But the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25).
(iii) Death on the cross is a form of foolishness and shame. Describing crucifixion in the eyes of the Jews, the New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce said, “To die by crucifixion was to plumb the lowest depths of disgrace; it was a punishment reserved for those who were deemed most unfit to live, a punishment for those who were subhuman.”
Philip Ryken summarizes all this with the comment, “The cross was for murderers and rebels, provided they were also slaves or foreigners’. The point is that the cross was an instrument of shame and disgrace for the Jews and the Romans.
Today, at Good Friday, we remember how Jesus undergoes the highest form of shame and disgrace. The cross is reserved only for people treated as criminals and rebels. This type of shame and disgrace, Jesus accepted because of our salvation. This is what we remember on Good Friday.
The Beauty of the Cross.
One day a woman entered a Cathedral with her little daughter to behold the beauty of the house of God. As they are walking along the aisles, the little daughter seeing how beautiful the church is exclaimed “oh see how this place is beautiful”.
As they walk inside the church, the young daughter continues to admire the beauty and compliments the structures as they walk around the church.
When they reached the place where the cross and a picture describing the death of Jesus is, the young girl kept silent for a while.
The mother looked at her and asked “Julie why are you quiet?”, the young girl exclaimed, “Oh mom what a wicked world, this is not good to behold mom”.
The mother kept silent and said, “daughter You once exclaimed how beautiful this place was and was happy to be here. The suffering of this man-made it possible”. She said ‘how mom” The mother replied, “The man is Jesus, He underwent the worst suffering so that you will be happy and saved”.
As they walked to the images of the resurrection, the daughter exclaimed again ‘oh what a beautiful picture mom” she said pointing at the picture of the resurrection.
The mother responded “you see Julie, without that picture of the cross which made you sad and quiet, there will be no picture of the resurrection that is making you happy now. The same man you saw there is the same here. “Oh, now I understand” the little daughter smiled.
1.Like the little daughter, today’s celebration will leave us in sober reflection and sadness but there is the source of our joy today.
Hence when we look at the cross, we see a form of cruel death, abomination, hatred, a form of foolishness, a form of shame and disgrace but there at the cross comes our victory, salvation, a sign of the love of God, the symbol of peace, the secret of life.
The cross is not beautiful to the eyes but behind the cross is what makes us who we are. At the cross, our sins are paid and the devil is vanquished.
Without the cross of Good Friday, there will be no resurrection on Easter. The cross looks so shameful, painful and stupid even but there is where the highest price for the salvation of man was paid. Hence in the cross lies a great seed of greatness. Let us always cherish our crosses.
2. In the human cell, there is a structure known as laminin which is a major component of the basal lamina (one of the layers of the basement membrane).
The laminins are an important and biologically active part of the basal lamina, which influence cell differentiation, cell migration, and adhesion.
Laminin has one long string with two other strings on either side which twist around the base, forming a cross.
What is so astounding about this cross-shaped protein is that it is considered to be the “glue” that holds all tissue together. Hence our skin, intestines, our muscles, would all fall apart without this ‘glue’ protein.
One may see this as a coincidence but who knows if God deliberately designed it this way to highlight the importance of the cross.
Hence the cross becomes the source of our salvation. 1 Peter 2:24 says “ He bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed”.
3. Through the cross, our sins are forgiven, our relationship with God was strengthened and our hope of eternity was assured. It is the greatest sacrifice that no founder of any religion was able to pay.
It is also through the cross that we show that we are truly disciples of Jesus. Jesus says “if you want to be one of my disciples, you have to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mathew 16:24).
The way of the cross may be painful. Hence, in the cross lies the greatest seed of what we want in life. So never reject the cross.
Lessons from the Good Friday Event.
As we remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the Good Friday reminds us of some life lessons:
1. Life is full of challenges. We cannot do without them. They are there and remain parts of life. Everyone has a mission and every mission has a cross to bear.
Jesus did not reject His cross, rather He embraced it. Always embrace your cross. They are there for a reason that may lead to something good.
2. Just like Jesus was denied, betrayed, mocked and scourged and crucified, in life, there must be a time you encounter betrayals, denials, mockery and dejection. But Jesus teaches us that in the way of the cross what we need to do is to focus on where we are going.
3. Without the cross, there will be no resurrection.
The cross of Jesus Christ is a sign of contradiction of death to life, sorrows to joy, weeping to happiness etc. In the cross lies the highest price Jesus paid.
What you may be passing through may be a price you have to pay for your salvation, it can be a price you have to pay to reach your destination.
In all his suffering, Jesus did not complain, He bore all of them in silence. Hence Jesus teaches us to embrace our crosses. Carry them with gentleness and calm until you reach where you are going.
4. Every journey in life involves a sacrifice. There is always a price to pay for every prize. If you need a peaceful home, you have to sacrifice whatever that may divide the family.
To be holy, you have to crucify the desires of the flesh and the living the way you want. Hence, you sacrifice anything to live the way God wants. To be successful in life also requires a lot of sacrifices.
These sacrifices can be painful but at last, you will see that they are worth the pains. The cross is always ugly to the eyes and painful to experience.
You may not like what you are going through, but once you know what you want and the destination you want to end, at last, you will come to understand that you truly need the cross to be where you want to be.
6. The cross looks ugly to behold, unlike Eve’s apple which appeals to the eye. Yet Eve’s apple led man into suffering and death. The cross that was ugly later became the salvation of man.
In the same vein, many people want to live a life of luxury. Many look for shortcuts to achieve it. In the end, they wander in pain and regret and begin to look for last-minute salvation.
We need to embrace our crosses now and work our way out. In the end, that thing you spend your time to sacrifice, will one day begin to yield dividends. Psalms 126 says that those who sow in tears will sing when they reap. Let us appreciate whatever God puts on our path.
May God forgive us our sins and help us to appreciate the beauty of our crosses. Amen.
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