Good Friday – Readings

Commentary on Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1 – 19:42

Some thoughts to consider on Good Friday…

Contemplate these two scenes:

  • God in Jesus, battered and naked on the Cross, is made accessible to all. We still need discerning eyes to see this, but even a pagan soldier could see it (see Mark 15:39).
  • The veil of the Temple is torn in two. The Holy of Holies is thrown open (Matt 27:51) and God is no longer hidden behind a veil, inaccessible except to the High Priest, and then only once a year. He is available to all of us – at any time and in any place.
  • All early cultures sacrificed blood to their gods. Blood was associated with the life principle – we can bleed to death. The most precious offering to God was blood, and the most precious blood of all was human blood.

    Historians tell us that many ancient cultures engaged in human sacrifice (Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac is seen by some as related to this practice – Gen 22:1-18). Later human sacrifice was eliminated and only animals were used. By the time of Jesus, the Temple had become a giant butchery, with priests killing animals non-stop. When Jesus drove out the money-changers, it was estimated that 90 percent of commerce was linked to animal sacrifices.

    Why then, so much blood at Jesus’ death? For so many centuries people had been spilling blood to reach out to God. But in the crucifixion, it is reversed – God spills his own blood to reach out to us. This is to take away our old fear, that we need to spill blood to try to appease an angry God. There is no such thing as an ‘angry’ God. There is only an unconditionally loving God.

    Paul tells us that Jesus “emptied himself” (Phil 2:6-7). He emptied himself of all egoism, of all anger, fear and anxiety, of all human dignity in the sight of others. He let go of everything and because he did so, he was fully taken up in union with his Father.

    For us it has to be the same. Our lives are so tied up with all kinds of concerns, desires, ambitions, fears and anxieties. We need to remove these blocks and just let go. We need to break down the barriers separating us from total union with the Source and Goal of all being.

    The Way is shown clearly in the Gospel, and most of all in the Way of the Cross – leading to resurrection, new life and ascension, and to union with God in Christ.

    Paul was very close to it when he said:

    …it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. (Gal 2:20)

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