I was given the honor and the responsibility of speaking at our local community (New Hope) of churches’ Good Friday worship gathering. As I was piecing together, struggling, and wrestling with what to say (a weekly occurrence), knowing that many folks there had heard the Scriptures of Jesus’ passion and crucifixion so many times before that they had become old hat, knowing this because they have become old hat to me at times, I wanted to offer at least one little twist that might plant in someone’s subconscious awareness and sprout out at some point in the future.
So I’d like to share the message with you. I would love for you to engage with it, push me on it in places, or just sit and let it soak in your brains for a bit. It is one perspective among many, though at its best it can help to reveal God’s truth. Here’s the link to the full-text. And a couple excerpts:
We live in a broken world, a world that is very dark, but this world is not hopeless, the darkness has not won, and our God has given us the opportunity to seek the light and truth that comes from being a part of this historical people, our founding fathers and mothers are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, Job, Nehemiah, Malachi, Bartholomew, James, Mary Magdalene, and our LORD Jesus.
On this day, a crowd gathers outside Jerusalem that quickly swells into great numbers, children dance and scream out joy, and adults lay down their cloaks. It is this man! Jesus! He has come to Jerusalem! Could this be the Messiah? The crowd shouts, HOSANNA! Praise to the Son of David! The King is coming! The King is coming! The revolution is beginning! Israel will be restored!
This is a time of celebration, of expectation. “The time of suffering has come to an end!” most people would have thought, but the disciples, if they paid any attention to the teachings of Jesus, during this loud gathering may have had something tickling in the back of their mind during the triumphal procession, faint memories of Jesus saying to them time and time and time again, “my children, I will be with you only a little longer,” and “I am going away and will be coming back to you,” and “the Son of Man will be arrested, crucified, raised up.” They may carry these memories buried way back in their heads, but the memories aren’t faint because of time and things getting fuzzy, they’re faint because what Jesus has been teaching doesn’t line up with what the disciples want to hear, what the disciples have thought was the truth about the Messiah.
The temple authorities grow angry when they hear and see the children shouting Hosanna and praises to this Jesus, and Jesus calls them on the carpet, saying, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” And he tells parable after parable to those gathered around mocking the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, sneering at them, exposing their self-righteousness and hypocrisy. This is NOT the Jesus meek and mild of our childhood Sunday School classes that bleeds over into our adult belief system.
When Judas betrays Jesus, the disciples cry out, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” (they obviously didn’t wait for an answer) It seems Peter had one of the swords the disciples had brought along, and Peter did what seemed natural, he struck out against the servant of the High Priest, protecting Jesus, inciting violence. And it is here, at the height of the climax, when all seems to point towards Jesus living into the destiny that everyone had planned out for him, when the disciples are using the sword that Jesus told them to get, thateverything gets turned completely upside-down for them.
In case we thought the Israelites were the only ones who could take their attention off the world and pay attention to themselves, the Roman Empire occupying them at this time was obsessed with keeping and extending what they had, and since then, the French have been obsessed with the French, the Germans with the Germans, the English with the English, and the United States with the United States; each of us in our little corner of the globe, like kids in a pre-school playroom seeing who can have the most toys at the expense of the others.
On Good Friday, we see the pinnacle of God’s great love, when on the cross, God scoffed at the power of the Romans and corrupt Israelite expectations, and in the resurrection laughed in their faces, saying “You cannot possibly stand in the way of my purposes!”… But the fact remains that for every other person in this story other than Jesus, the way things panned out was deeply confusing, even after the resurrection. Before, they thought they knew what was true, what would happen. Jesus, however, showed them the purposes of God were higher and bigger than they imagined.”