Stay on the Hill   Leave a comment

Over recent years Good Friday has become an increasingly important day for me. Last year I wrote a piece that explained my feelings that an Easter Sunday celebration was significantly muted if one does not take time to absorb the full significance of Good Friday.  Each year part of my Good Friday has been a service with two other churches in Pacifica. This year as I prepared for that event, particularly focussed on those last word of Jesus “ It is finished” I was impressed by a perspective I had not really seen before. 

There were three (at least) groups of people on that hill outside Jerusalem that Friday. The first was a gathering of religious authority figures. For them this was finally the end of three years of chaos (or at least so they hoped). For the past month this self styled Rabbi had travelled their jurisdiction, proclaiming a radical and disruptive message. Every aspect of this message seemed to discredit them and all they stood for. Every time they confronted him they were humiliated and to add insult to injury he claimed to be God! They must have been glad to hear the words “ It is finished.” 

And then there were his friends and family. They had struggled and stumbled along beside him, asking questions, and at least reserving judgment as far as they could. Step by step however they had moved towards the belief that he was at the least a remarkable prophet and at best the Messiah of their hopes and dreams. Imminent, they had begun to believe, was that moment when he would declare the end of Roman tyranny and the Jewish nation would be free again. For them the sight of that body slumped lifeless on a cross meant that all they and dared to hope was finished. Disappointment, confusion, anger, and humiliation it was all there. How could they have let themselves give room to that hope? And lastly a tired, surly group of Roman soldiers reaching the end of another tedious day trying to keep the peace. How quickly could they get these people cleared and get home?

Not far away, to add to the chaos, there in the temple the priests on duty must have stared open mouthed at the shreds of a curtain lying, along with all that held it up, on the floor. This had separated them from that most holy of places, which was now exposed for all to see. Should they look or turn away?

How easy it is with 20/20 hindsight to hurry to the joy of Easter morning, to the significance of a torn curtain that allows us all to “ approach the throne of grace with confidence” To rejoice that the body slumped on the cross is no longer there and to cry in triumph He is Risen. However to do so would surely be to miss the pain and confusion of those close to Him. To miss also the agony of those three days when Jesus was separated from His Father and carried not just a few sins but those of the whole world. Imagine for one second accepting the full responsibility for just one of the horrendous events described on today’s news and then realize He took it all!  

The truth is most of the world is still on that hill. Some intent upon putting Jesus behind them even persuading themselves it did not happen, a luxury not available to those original groups! Others are wrestling with the fact that God does not seem to be who they would like Him to be or to do the things they want Him to. However if we take the risk of staying for a while on that hill I believe that when we come down the experience of the joy of Easter morning will be so much more amazing. And yes, its not too late! Just as we can rejoice in the victory of the resurrection every day we can go there via the hill that makes it so much more! Then we can say with that one Roman soldier “ Truly this was the Son of God!” 

Posted May 2, 2014 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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