Good Friday – John 18:1-19:42
Here’s my question. What is the cross of Jesus asking for in your life today? And what is it showing you?
Now let me warn you about this sermon. I’m not talking about that old rugged cross on a hill far away. So get ready.
We often say that the Father sent his only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins, to pay off the human debt that had been increasing ever since Adam and Eve. If that understanding of the cross is correct then Jesus got the parable of the prodigal son wrong. The father should not have forgiven and welcomed home the younger son. He should have tortured and executed the older son. How does that work for you?
“God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” We often hear that verse, John 3:16, as “God so loved the world that he crucified his only son.” What happened to the Father who said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mk. 1:11)? What kind of parent does that? Does that sound right to you? Make sense? Should we call that good news or child abuse?
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus said (Jn. 14:9). We believe and trust that he shows us who God is and what God is like. Listen to what he says: “Put away your sword,” “Turn the other cheek,” “Love your enemies,” “Forgive seventy-seven times,” “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Where is the violence in Jesus? When has he required sacrifice? If they’re not in Jesus they’re not in the Father. So if violence and sacrifice are not God’s way, whose way are they?
I think Jesus truly was an innocent victim of violence and that he was sacrificed. But it wasn’t divine violence that sacrificed him, it was human violence. I think Jesus spoke truth to power – the truth of love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, justice, hospitality – and he was taken out by that power.*
What if Jesus’ death on the cross did not extinguish the cruelty of the world but exposed and condemned it? What if the crucifixion did not change the world but is calling for change in the world? What if the cross is not a sign of the conquering power of God but a sign that God stands with the innocent conquered by power?*
“It is finished,” Jesus said. Those are not the final words of a winner. They are the final words of a witness who, God help him, has testified to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.*
I wonder if we’ve spent too much time glorying in the cross of Jesus instead of taking up our cross and following him. I wonder what truth to power you need to speak in your life today.
*These paragraphs are based on the writing of John D.Caputo in On Religion, 129-137, and Cross and Cosmos, 5.
Holy Week 2021
+ Palm Sunday: Working Out Our Life
+ Monday in Holy Week: Fragrancing Life
+ Tuesday in Holy Week: What Troubles Your Soul?
+ Wednesday in Holy Week: The Night Of Betrayal
+ Maundy Thursday: Coming Clean About Ourselves