Lord Jesus Christ suffers and dies on the cross on Good Friday. It represents the lowest point in the story of this man who did nothing but good. It’s a tragic ending to a life spent loving people. The world had pronounced its judgment on Jesus: he was a failure, and his mission was now doomed to die with him on his cross. The events leading to his crucifixion are heart-rending, the circumstances surrounding his death, even more so. Abandoned by the people he had come to redeem, abandoned by closest friends, he now seemed abandoned by his heavenly Father as well. What more could the world want in showing itself. Jesus was utterly alone.
The loneliness of Good Friday, when the beloved Son of God died hanging on the cross is the loneliness all of us experience when suffering and pain assail us and when all the world seems to have abandoned us, when even our strength seems not to be there for us. It is the experience of every human heart that has come face to face with pain. God does not pretend to take the pain away from us. As on Good Friday, he didn’t take his Son down from the cross, so does he not take our crosses away from us at times. But as on Good Friday when Jesus hung on the cross, God is unmistakably there, bearing our pain with us, joining us in our suffering, weeping with us, and with us, seeking to find a way to change our suffering into joy. Good Friday is not the end of our story, just as it wasn’t the end of Jesus.
The forty days’ time, prior to Easter is known as Lent. Lent is the most important time of the year to nurture our inner life. It is the time during which we not only prepare ourselves to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus, but also the death and resurrection that constantly takes place within us. Life is a continuing process of the death of the old and the familiar, and being reborn again into a new hope, a new trust and a new love. The death and resurrection of Lord Jesus therefore is not just an historical event that took place a long time ago, but an inner event that takes place in our own heart when we are willing to let go of everything that prevents us from growing into spiritual maturity.
Lent is a time to discover and experience the love of God. What can we say about God’s love? God’s love is unconditional. God does not say, “I love you, if….”. There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity, God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances.
The entire world is reminded again this week of the hope that lives and endures forever. Easter is time of joy and renewal. Easter is the season many Christians will celebrate a hope that overcomes even death. These holy days represent some of the most profound hopes of humanity, which are shared in many traditions. We feel our reliance on the Creator who made us. We place our sorrows and cares before Him, seeking God’s mercy. We ask for forgiveness for our failures, seeking the renewal God can bring.
Presbyterian Church, Wembley